Frieze Art Fair 2010: Highlights

We pick out the highlights on show in Regent’s Park this year.

Now in its eighth year, Frieze Art Fair 2010 features 173 contemporary art galleries showcasing over a thousand artists from 29 countries. Held in a giant tent in Regent's Park, London, from 14 to 17 October, Frieze Art Fair brings together under one roof internationally renowned and emerging galleries.

Frieze is accompanied by a curated programme of talks, commissioned artist projects, films and concerts. Take a look at some of the highlights ahead of the opening this Thursday.

Galleries

Edinburgh's Ingleby Gallery showcases elegant minimalist work by the Brazilian artist Iran do Espírito Santo, together with Callum Innes's large abstract black-and-white canvases.

Galerija Gregor Podnar from Berlin juxtaposes minute and large-scale sculptural works deploying unusual materials such as spotlights in the drawings of Goran Petercol and cardboard in Tobias Putrih's architectural containers.

Decks of cards make up the stunning Tower of Babel by Matt Johnson, one of two Los Angeles-based artists represented this year by Alison Jacques Gallery, London.

Warsaw's Raster gallery pairs digital and colour photographs by the Polish artists Rafal Bujnowski and Oskar Dawicki, whose Tree of Knowledge subverts and reinvents the biblical myth of earthly paradise.

David Zwirner, New York, contrasts Algerian-born Adel Abdessemed's striking black-and-white Ice Skates, made of hand-blown glass, with the American James Welling's inkjet prints, suffused with coloured light.

Frame

Inaugurated in 2009, this section of the fair is dedicated to galleries that have been around for less than six years.

Look out for the Indian gallery Experimenter, showing Live True Life or Die Trying (2009) by Naeem Mohaiemen (Bangladesh), an installation that juxtaposes text and photographs of Islamist and leftist demonstrations simultaneously taking place in Dhaka.

In a different vein, Simon Preston's New York gallery displays the delicate geometric forms of the Brazilian Carlos Bevilacqua's wood-and-rubber sculptures.

The Cartier Award 2010

Frozen, a site-specific installation by this year's winner, the British-Japanese artist Simon Fujiwara, imagines a lost city buried beneath Frieze Art Fair. Expect to stumble upon archaeological digs and artefacts scattered across the site.

Frieze Talks

Friday 15 October, 12pm – Frieze Projects: Jeffrey Vallance
This panel discussion will avail itself of five mediums to communicate with the spirits of famous artists. The audience will be offered a rare opportunity to ask the likes of Jackson Pollock, Leonardo da Vinci, Frida Kahlo, Vincent Van Gogh and Marcel Duchamp searching questions about the role of art in the afterworld.

Saturday 16 October, 2.30pm – Susan Hiller in conversation with John Welchman
A chance to see the American, London-based artist Susan Hiller discuss her work and the role of humour in contemporary art today, ahead of the upcoming retrospective of her work at Tate Britain.

Frieze Film

Commissioned video works by British artists will be shown free of charge in a specially built cinema by the entrance to the fair. These include Linder's three-minute-long Forgetful Green, referencing Hieronymus Bosch's Garden of Earthly Delights, and a video by Stephen Sutcliffe inspired by an episode in Colin Wilson's celebrated novel The Outsider, involving a meeting with the devil.

Frieze Music

Friday 15 October, 8pm-midnight – The American band Hercules and Love Affair, in a rare UK performance styled as a homage to the Nineties house scene, will be supported by avant-pop duo Telepathe at Debut, a new music venue beneath London Bridge Station.

Saturday 16 October, 8pm-11pm – A candlelit jazz concert starring Baby Dee, a classically trained harpist and pianist, and the experimental Elysian Quartet will be staged at Shoreditch Church.

 

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Beware of tea: the cuppa has started wars and ruined lives

. . . and it once led F Scott Fitzgerald to humiliate himself.

A drink sustains me – one that steams companionably as I write. It is hot, amber and fragranced differently from any wine; nor does it have wine’s capacity to soften and blur. I’ve never understood how the great drunks of literature, Ernest Hemingway, F Scott Fitzgerald and their like, ever put anything on the page more worthwhile than a self-involved howl, though even Hemingway apparently finished the day’s writing before beginning the day’s drinking.

Tea is more kindly, or so I’d always thought. Those aromatic leaves, black or green, rolled and dried and oxidised, have some of wine’s artistry but none of its danger. Even their exoticism has waned, from a Chinese rarity (“froth of the liquid jade”), for which 17th-century English traders were made to pay in solid silver, to a product that can be found dirt cheap on supermarket shelves.

There are even home-grown teas now. The Tregothnan estate in Cornwall has supplemented its ornamental rhododendrons and camellias with their relative camellia sinensis, the tea plant, while Dalreoch in the Scottish Highlands grows a white (that is, lightly oxidised) tea, which is smoked using wood from the surrounding birch plantations. Tellingly, this local version is priced as steeply as the imported rarity once was.

I enjoy a simple, solitary mug, but I also appreciate communal tea-drinking – the delicate tea warmed with water at 85°C (a little higher for sturdier black blends), the teapot and china, the pourer volunteering to be “mother”, as if this were a liquid that could nurture. But in reality, tea is not so gentle.

Those long-ago English traders disliked haemorrhaging silver, so they started exporting opium to China from India and paying with that. This was a fabulous success, unless you happened to be Chinese. In 1839, a commissioner attempted to clamp down on the illegal and harmful trade, and the result was the Opium Wars, which the Chinese lost. “Gunboat diplomacy” – a phrase that surely constitutes froth of a different kind – won England a great deal of silver, a 150-year lease on Hong Kong and an open tea market. China received a potful of humiliation that may eventually have helped spark the Communist Revolution. As many of us have recently realised, there is nothing like economic mortification to galvanise a nation to kick its leaders.

Later, the tea bush was planted in India, Ceylon and elsewhere, and the fragrant but bitter brew for the upper classes became a ubiquitous fuel. But not an entirely sweet one: just as the opium trade ensured our tea’s arrival in the pot, the slave trade sweetened it in the cup. Even today, conditions for tea workers in places such as Assam in north-east India are often appalling.

Scott Fitzgerald also had tea trouble. When invited round by Edith Wharton, he frothed the liquid jade so assiduously with booze beforehand and risqué conversation during (a story about an American tourist couple staying unawares in a Paris bordello) that he was nearly as badly humiliated as those 19th-century Chinese. Wharton, unshocked, merely wondered aloud what the couple had done in the bordello and afterwards pronounced the entire occasion “awful”.

Some would blame his alcoholic preliminaries, but I’m not so sure. Tea has started wars and ruined lives; we should be wary of its consolations. On that sober note, I reach for the corkscrew and allow the subject to drive me softly, beguilingly, to drink.

Nina Caplan is the 2014 Fortnum & Mason Drink Writer of the Year and 2014 Louis Roederer International Wine Columnist of the Year for her columns on drink in the New Statesman. She tweets as @NinaCaplan.

This article first appeared in the 27 April 2017 issue of the New Statesman, Cool Britannia 20 Years On

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