Elmgreen & Dragset, But I’m on the Guest List, Too!, 2013, Victoria Miro
There were some artists in the Frieze Sculpture park that used mirrors as material for their sculptures, such as Jeppe Hein and Marilá Dardot. The artist duo Michael Elmgreen & Ingvar Dragset, used the material to comment on the amount of vanity and superficiality in the art world and their work is definitely the funniest in the Sculpture Park.
The words from their title is likely to be heard regurgitated at many entrances to PR personnel who hold the clipboard to determine whom may gain access to the ‘must be-seen’ events in Town. The door, slightly ajar, as the person, not on the guest-list, shoves a foot to prevent its closure, whilst trying to convince the PR person to allow them access by saying, “I’m with the artist”.
When I first saw this, it felt like I was standing face-to-face with an image from the Pink Floyd record sleeve, ‘Division Bell’, created by Storm Thorgenson, founder of Hypgnosis, who sadly passed away this year. The image was of two faces in profile, made out of steel, creating an impression of seeing only one face as viewed full-frontal.
Plensa’s wooden sculpture was beautifully positioned in the park with the trees in the background, but there was something odd about the perspective: when you walked around the sculpture it turned out that the face was only one meter wide, appearing to have been squashed in to a given space, making this work as surreal and intriguing as Thorgenson’s work.
The artist continues her series of self portraits wearing masks of her photographic idols. Previously, she has portrayed herself as the photographers Diane Arbus and August Sander. At Frieze, she welcomes Henry Fox Talbot as a new member of her ‘spiritual’ family. Talbot invented the calotype process, a precursor to photographic processes. Standing in front of Wearing’s work it looks as Mr. Talbot made his invention in the Eighteenth century as there is something very presidential about the portrait making him a contemporary of George Washington, but the British photography pioneer actually lived in the nineteenth century.
Sasnal also sought inspiration from an inventor, Guglielmo Marconi, who is known for his pioneering work on long distance radio transmission. Notice how the Polish artist makes subtle reference to the Italian’s work by depicting the inside of his ear as an antenna of transmission.
Sasnal’s compatriot, Marcin Maciejowski, has an eye for a tableau that has occurred many times during the Frieze week: the reception area of an opening to a show. The artist has made a tender portrait of a beautiful girl who is prepared to serve drinks, but her mind, though, seems to be not in the here and now.
Quite mesmerizing as, when you looked into the mirror, it felt as though you were standing in a fog.
The artist Josephine Meckseper uses the vitrine as her medium in which she wants to critique political implications of the iconography of consumer culture. With a collage of objects placed into a vitrine, she addresses issues around capitalism, social class, nationalism and representations of women. A conversation with the gallerist unearths that the latter issue is addressed, by the featuring of a photograph of the Austrian born actress, Hedy Lamarr (born Hedwig Eva Maria Kiesler), who gained notoriety with her full frontal nude appearance and close-ups of her face in the throes of orgasm in the film ‘Ecstacy’ (1933). Her wealthy husband, Friedrich Mantl, purchased as many copies of the film as he could as he objected to what he felt was exploitation of his wife.
These days the debate about exploitation of women is very actual fuelled by women themselves, from, for example, Miley Cyrus and Emily Ratajkowski. These women, though, regard ‘exploitation’ differently. Cyrus has commented to the Wall Street Journal on her controversial appearance in the MTV Video Music Awards where she twerked against Robin Thicke’s crotch that “the critics are overthinking it”.
The Polish model, Emily Ratajkowski, who, uninhibitedly dances topless in the unrated version of Thicke’s video, ‘Blurred Lines’, doesn’t consider the video as being sexist. The director of the video, Diane Martel, who is a woman, considers the video as “pro-woman rather than mysoginstic”. In an interview with Esquire, Ratajkowski, understands that “the video may be perceived as sexist and appreciates the people who pay attention to that occurring”. She explains the intention behind the video: “We’re directed to have a sort of confidence, a sarcastic attitude about the whole situation. That eye contact and that attitude really puts us in a power situation” and added: “I think it’s actually celebrating women and their bodies”. The perennial discussion about exploitation of women not only occurs in Hedy Lamarr’s century but, also, in this century and, most likely, will continue in the next century.
Presented for the first time in Switzerland last year, and now for the first time at Frieze.
Undoubtedly the booth at Frieze were the most LOL was occurring.
This work was part of Van Lankveld’s new show at the Bethnal Green based gallery. Van Lankveld paints on relatively small canvases vascilating between figuration and abstraction, and, in which, hallucinatory figures can be detected, such as ghosts, ‘Scream’ masks, monsters or playful cartoon figures. Van Lankveld usually employs a subdued, monochromatic colour palette, but in this new body of work the colours are bold and have more contrast.
The Dutch artist creates her works by pouring diluted paint on to a canvas and she draws into the wet surface. It appears with this new body of work, that she has drawn less into the paint as the works are less figurative than her previous work, leaving more space for the artist’s interest in intuitive painting and coincidence can come into play. The paint still flows on the canvas, but the brush strokes are more sweeping and dramatic. It will be interesting to see, as a next step, if the artist will investigates producing her work on a larger canvas.
Text: Thierry Somers
Forthcoming article: Frieze Masters