This year’s Frieze New York will offer fair-goers the unique opportunity to anticipate a surreptitious pickpocket moving amongst the throngs of unassuming collectors and civilians. As is well-advertised by now, American artist David Horvitz has hired a professional petty criminal to insert mysterious tokens into peoples’ pockets as they stare at paintings and stand in line for refreshments. What the item (or items) might be and what sort of meaning it (or they) might convey is still a mystery. Horvitz’s project (titled, true courtship dance) makes reference to gift economies, systems of exchange in which goods are meant to be in constant circulation as communal property. These days, the only place to find such an economy for the arts is on Instagram, and that’s most likely where Horvitz’s mystery objects will end up.
Over in the Frame section, 80m2 Livia Benavides stands out as the only Peruvian gallery at the fair. 80m2 represent young artists who address political issues through conceptual projects, such as Nancy La Rosa, who has made work that maps indigenous relationships to territory in Peru through video, documents, and objects. At Frieze New York, they will feature Rita Ponce de Léon, who exhibited at Kunsthalle Basel in 2014.
Beyond Randall’s Island, I’m anticipating On Outsourcing and False Tears (2015), British artist Cally Spooner’s months-long performance in the New Museum’s lobby gallery. Curated by Helga Christoffersen, the work sees several trained dancers respond to Spooner’s ‘score’ of gestures, which is informed by rugby scrums and slow, gestural choreography. They will perform daily within a sound-dampened environment that draws attention to the gallery’s glass architecture and questions how that material shapes contemporary (white collar) labour. Picture the comedy: a silent tableau in which bodies wrestle and jostle for position, for weeks on end, behind a café full of unassuming coffee drinkers, going about their quotidian routines.
The closing panel of Frieze Talks discusses the relationship that curators should have with art history and involves Julia Bryan-Wilson, Michelle Grabner, Jens Hoffmann, Emiliano Valdés and Beatrice von Bismarck. I come to the discussion with the opinion that curators should have enough art historical training to perform rigorous research and understand the importance of defining their terms, but that, to innovate and move past the present canon, they need to look beyond art history’s rigid and received methodologies; to question the discipline as Douglas Crimp called for in his now canonical text ‘On the Museum’s Ruins’ (1993). That said, I am compelled to attend this particular discussion for the simple fact that Julia Bryan-Wilson is totally badass.