Frieze Artist Award: Winners in Profile

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Ahead of the launch at Frieze New York 2018, see what selected Artist Award winners made, felt and did next

The Frieze Artist Award is an international, open call for an emerging artist to realize a major site-specific work at Frieze Fairs. Launching for the first time at Frieze New York 2018, the Frieze Artist Award is supported by the LUMA Foundation.

Applications are open until December 11, 2017. Below, find out more about selected previous winners of the fair's artists awards, critics responses to their commissions, the artists’ experience, and their careers since.

2015: Rachel Rose 

Born: 1986

Lives: New York, USA

Commission: Rose created a scale-model of the fair structure: when visitors crawled inside, they experienced simulations of the sonic and visual sense frequencies of animals that live in The Regent’s Park - including a fox, mouse, newt, robin and stickleback - achieved by a meticulously researched lighting and sound design. According to Rose, the environment aimed to make the visitor ‘feel the limits of your own spectrum of communication’.


Rachel Rose, Frieze Artist Award 2015

Rachel Rose, Frieze Artist Award 2015

The critics said: [U]pon crawling inside on hands and knees — a fun act to witness artists and billionaires of all ages do — visitors find themselves cocooned in a plushly carpeted structure softly lit by disco lights […] Specific tints of light mimic how that day’s designated animal sees; Rose distorts sounds by scrambling the frequencies of songs, so people hear human music as critters do. But there is no PETA-approved message underlying the project — though Rose is a committed vegetarian — rather, by simulating perceptual differences in physiology, the experience of observation is enlivened. - The New York Times

“It’s the matryoshka doll of art fairs, and as you can imagine, in a room full of willing participants it’s pure delight.” - Another

The artist said: “The project came about through learning about the transmission of light and sound, and wanting to physicalize that research. The Award, and working alongside Frieze, the LUMA Foundation, Nicola Lees and Lauren Wetmore deepened these thoughts into a experience that would never have been realized without their very open minded, supportive approach, I am grateful to have had the opportunity to work with such generous group of people.”   

What happened next: Rose’s commission was unveiled alongside a survey of her video work at the Serpentine Galleries, London. The artist has since had solo exhibitions at the Whitney Museum, New York, Aspen Art Museum, and Pilar Corrias in London, and was included in ‘The Infinite Mix’ at the Hayward Gallery in London. Her solo exhibition opened at Kunsthaus Bregenz on 4 February, 2017

Read more: Ellen Mara de Watcher reviews Rachel Rose at Pilar Corrias, London













2012: Cécile B. Evans

Born: 1983

Lives: London, UK

Commission: Evans’ project was an audio guide to the fair accompanied by a holographic ‘host’. This Is Your Audio Guide featured a diverse panel of non-art experts from fields of media, pop culture, politics and science to respond to selected works exhibited in the fair in entirely personal terms; Rabbi Lionel Blue, ancient historian Mary Beard, astronomer Patrick Moore, model Sophie Dahl and biologist Steve Tabor among others took part. Simon Schama acted as ‘host’ for the project in holographic form presented in display sculptures dotted through the fair. Evans aimed to intervene in the vocabulary typically employed by the contemporary art market and introduce a different type of language to the fair, one based on subjective feelings rather than material, price or provenance. “This wasn’t going against the other values”, Evans clarified, but allowed “visitors coming with different levels of access to art all able to access an entry point through the guide.”


Cécile B. Evans, Frieze Artist Award 2012. Photo: Frieze

Cécile B. Evans, Frieze Artist Award 2012. Photo: Frieze

The critics said: ‘…an alternative audio tour that does the opposite of what audio tours typically do. That is, it does not provide names, dates and other contextualizing historical information. Instead, it offers voices of people from outside the art world, responding to works of art in an entirely personal way. - The New York Times

“I like Ryan Gander's parade of squashy faux-designer objets. And I especially like the commentary on them from author Ned Beauman, in which he discusses the future of designer accessories: logo-laden pill boxes, overpriced OAP gifts […] I talk to Evans, who is lovely, and she tells me that she approached around 120 people to take part, and "I've never been rejected so many times". Even luminaries such as Malcolm Gladwell and Adam Curtis demurred because "they didn't feel qualified, they were scared". It's astonishing how intimidating art can be to people. They feel there is a "right" response, a respect that is due, a knowledge that's needed before any opinion can be given.” - The Guardian

The artist said: "The Award was my first chance to work directly on a commission with a curator - and of Sarah McCrory's caliber - and a team that could support an idea. Having this kind of experience gave me invaluable tools to bring my practice to the next level. Having the additional support of the Frieze Projects as a context allowed there to be access to a wider public, which was major to me as an artist making research based work: until that point it was hard to imagine the "broader public", to think in larger numbers than just my peers. The experience gave me a sense of freedom and an ambitiousness towards of scale that I've definitely carried with me into projects I've made since. It also gave me a positive introduction to the scene in London, where I now live: I'm glad to still be around the communities that thrive here."


Cécile B. Evans, Sprung a Leak, installation view at Tate Liverpool, 2016. Courtesy: the artist and Galerie Emmanuel Layr, Vienna

Cécile B. Evans, Sprung a Leak, installation view at Tate Liverpool, 2016. Courtesy: the artist and Galerie Emmanuel Layr, Vienna

What happened next: the artist has had solo exhibitions at Tate Liverpool (2016-7), Seventeen, London (2014), and Barbara Seiler, Zurich (2015), as well as being included in prestigious group exhibitions such as 9th Berlin Biennial (2016) and the Future Generation Art Prize 2014, PinchukArtCentre, Kiev (2013). Her work AGNES was the first ever digital commission for the Serpentine Galleries, London, UK (2014).

Read more: Matthew McLean profiles Cécile B. Evans













2010: Simon Fujiwara

Born: 1982

Lives: Berlin, Germany

Commission: Inspired by the temporary landscape of Frieze London itself, Fujiwara’s Frozen was an installation based on the fictive premise that an ancient lost city had been discovered beneath the fair site. Visitors encountered archaeological digs under glass or open, some replete with teams of “archaeologists”. The found artefacts and graphic panels that filled the digs offered clues to a lost historic civilization, and the lives and culture that comprised it - from a gladitorial brothel, to a patron killed by her possessions, to a site of luxury cannibalism. Fujiwara dated the city between 79 and 200 AD “pre-Christian Roman”, he said, but also conciding with Han dynasty China; “the gates face the east, so it’s a little like me in it mix of east and west”.


Simon Fujiwara, Frozen, 2010, installaion view. Photograph: Polly Braden/Frieze

Simon Fujiwara, Frozen, 2010, installaion view. Photograph: Polly Braden/Frieze

The critics said: "His installation at – or rather beneath – this year’s Frieze (wittily entitled “Frozen”) creates a landscape of memory, positing a lost civilisation which has been partially discovered. It is a spectacle every bit as provocative as the art so fleetingly on show above. […] Fujiwara seems to want to penetrate the apparent superficiality of the contemporary art scene, revealing a world of Freudian fetish and fear." - Financial Times

"It is assuredly not lost on the artist, who was trained at Cambridge University as an architect, that this allegorical, simulated city recalls the life-size re-creations of a natural history museum. Fujiwara eschews fully immersive environments. His installations keep the viewer at a distance and are positioned within—or, in works like Frozen, appear to be the literal foundation of—a larger structure such as a fair or a biennial, the artist aligning those venues with themes of entertainment, tourism and the exotic." - Art in America

The artist said: "Frieze were very cool about how I interacted with the fair spaces. The work always came first - no compromise. You don’t always expect that from a fair.”


Simon Fujiwara, Rebekkah (2012). Presented to Leeds Art Gallery by the Contemporary Art Society through the Collections Fund, 2013. Photograph: (c) Joe Plommer.

Simon Fujiwara, Rebekkah (2012). Presented to Leeds Art Gallery by the Contemporary Art Society through the Collections Fund, 2013. Photograph: (c) Joe Plommer.

What happened next: Fujiwara has had solo exhibitions at numerous institutions - including The Power Plant, Toronto (2011), Tate St. Ives (2012), Kunstverein Braunschweig (2013), IMMA, Dublin, and The Photographer’s Gallery, London (2016) - as well as at commercial galleries includng Andrea Rosen, New York, Taro Nasu, Tokyo, Dvir Gallery, Tel Aviv, Proyectos Monclova, Mexico City and Gio Marconi, Milan. His exhibition ‘Figures in a Landscape’ ran at Kunsthalle Dusseldorf until 5 March 2017.

Read more: Declan Long reviews Simon Fujiwara at IMMA, Dublin

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