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.

 

Photo: Getty
Show Hide image

The End We Start From imagines London underwater

Megan Hunter's fictional apocalypse is a tender one. 

It is six months after the flood. The nameless narrator of The End We Start From is a new mother and a refugee, and by the midpoint of the novel we have followed her and her baby from the “Gulp Zone”, where their London flat was swallowed, to a safe house that proved to be not safe enough, and then refugee camps, every move stripping life a little closer to the essentials. First what can be fitted in a car as you flee to safety, then what can be carried in your arms; first porridge, then only gruel.

Halfway through, the narrator and her baby make it to an island under the guidance of another new mother she befriended in the camps. Here, a family has established a small life of plenty. The narrator has left behind a “place of not-enough”, but here there is food to spare. Seeds grow into vegetables. The baby “likes to eat butter in chunks”. But where has the butter come from? There’s no mention of cattle on the island, no bucolic descriptions of churning. We’re told there is no electricity. So how do they have butter and why is it not rancid?

It’s a small thing, but an outsize irritant in a book whose prose is pared back to match the minimal existence it describes. Every detail feels weighted with significance because it was chosen over something else. Megan Hunter is a poet (this is her first novel), and her poetic instincts are underlined by the TS Eliot-referencing title, borrowed from Four Quartets: “What we call the beginning is often the end / And to make an end is to make a beginning. / The end is where we start from.”

Apocalypse and rebirth are central to Hunter’s story. Butter aside, it invokes a thoroughly plausible end of the world. Like Emily St John Mandel’s luminous Station Eleven, or Margaret Atwood’s MaddAddam trilogy, you read it with the conviction that this is what it would be like. (These stories are told from the perspective of the resourceful fortunates who make it through. Apocalypse literature kindly dodges the reality that, if it came to it, most of us would die whimpering in a dirt hole.)

But realism is not the only dictate here. The End We Start From is also deeply invested with symbolism. It begins with the narrator going into labour: “Finally I am waterless, the pool of myself spreading slowly past my toes.” Maternity is a kind of apocalypse, an end to being one kind of self who lives one kind of life, and the beginning of another. Names, like everything else here, are cut back to the barest essentials, becoming just initials. The narrator’s husband is R, her in-laws are N and G, and her baby Z – an alphabetical end who is at the beginning of his life. Anyone who has welcomed the catastrophe of a newborn into their lives is likely to feel sympathy for this parallelbetween infant and Armageddon.

There is a cost to the allegory, though, and it comes through in moments when Hunter sacrifices the merciless logic of calculating survival in favour of giving play to her metaphor. Milk is, as it would be for a new mother, a theme. The milk in the narrator’s breasts that keeps her baby alive becomes an analogue for all sustenance: “As for food, I have started to think of it all as milk,” she says. “I wonder how long we would survive, how quickly human milk runs out in famine.” Perhaps it’s inevitable, then, that the unexpected gift of security and nourishment the narrator and Z find on the island should be represented through dairy; but it also punctures a world you could otherwise believe in utterly.

Hunter’s apocalypse is a tender one. There is violence and disorder at the start: one of the most affecting uses of Hunter’s spare style is when the narrator’s mother-in-law fails to return from a brutal trip to gather provisions, and the narrator simply announces: “No G.” But while R chooses isolation and suspicion of others, leaving his wife and child to make his own way, the narrator chooses humanity. She tells us how she “falls in love”, deep and quick, with those with whom she forms alliances. To borrow again from Four Quartets, “The houses are all gone under the sea” – but The End We Start From promises the possibility of life afterwards. 

The End We Start From
Megan Hunter
Picador, 127pp, £9.99

Sarah Ditum is a journalist who writes regularly for the Guardian, New Statesman and others. Her website is here.

This article first appeared in the 17 August 2017 issue of the New Statesman, Trump goes nuclear