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.

 

Donmar Warehouse
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Limehouse raises the question of when party loyalty becomes political irresponsibility

Labour's “Gang of Four” are brought to life brilliantly at the Donmar Warehouse.

A star of the Labour Party right wing, exiled from the shadow cabinet for deviating from the dominant orthodoxy, rants about how a decent but weak Labour leader, with an election-losing anti-European, anti-nuclear manifesto, risks letting the prime minister get away with whatever she wants.

Laughter shows that the audience gets what the dramatist Steve Waters is up to. Limehouse takes place on 25 January 1981, when a gentle veteran, Michael Foot, seems to be leading Labour to such sure oblivion at the next election that Dr David Owen has summoned his fellow moderates Shirley Williams, Bill Rodgers and (just back from a stint running Europe) Roy Jenkins to Sunday lunch in his kitchen in east London. This meeting led the “Gang of Four”, as they became known, to make a statement of estrangement from Labour that heralded the creation of the Social Democratic Party.

Waters was inspired by a New Statesman interview in which Rodgers wondered if the left-right divide under Jeremy Corbyn might justify a similar evacuation of the pragmatists now. The debates that the play stages – fidelity to party and national tribes against a fear of political and historical irrelevance – feel hotly topical.

Williams, considering an offer to abandon Labour and teach at Harvard, faced then the dilemma of an Ed Balls or Tristram Hunt now. And Labour members today who fantasise about a new progressive grouping might reflect that, while the SDP briefly seemed a plausible alternative to Thatcherism (winning 7.8 million votes at the 1983 election), the middle-class revolution was squeezed externally by two-party domination and internally by disputes over leadership and direction.

But, for all the parallel relevance, the success of Limehouse ultimately depends on the convincing re-creation of an era and its people. Enjoyable period details include the luxury macaroni cheese to a recipe by Delia Smith that Debbie Owen, Delia’s literary agent, chops and fries on stage to fuel her husband’s discussions with his three wary comrades. Waters also skilfully uses the mechanics of a pre-digital world – having to go out for newspapers, going upstairs to answer a phone – to get one character out of the way to allow others to talk about them.

As a good playwright should, Waters votes for each character in turn. Owen, though teased for vanity and temper, is allowed a long speech that honours his status as one of the most memorable orators in modern British politics. Tom Goodman-Hill samples Owen’s confident baritone without going the whole Rory Bremner.

Playing Jenkins, a man celebrated for both a speech defect and rococo cadences, Roger Allam has no choice but to deliver the voice perfectly, which he does. Waters carefully gives the character an early riff about the “crepuscular greyness” of Brussels, allowing Allam to establish the w-sounds and extravagant adjectives. Actor and playwright also challenge the assumption that for Jenkins both to love fine wine and to advocate social justice was inevitably a contradiction.

Debra Gillett refreshingly avoids the scattiness that caricaturists attribute to Williams, stressing instead her large brain and deep soul, in a portrayal that increases the sense of shame that the Tories should lead Labour 2-0 in the score of female prime ministers. As Rodgers (in Beatles terms, the Ringo of the confab four), Paul Chahidi touchingly suggests a politician who knows that he will always be a bag-man but still agonises over whose luggage to carry.

Unfolding over 100 minutes, Polly Findlay’s production has a lovely rhythm, staging the delayed entrances of Jenkins and Williams for maximum impact. Biodramas about the living or recently dead can be hobbled by a need to negotiate objections of tact or fact. Politicians, however, often purchase even the rudest cartoons of themselves for the loo wall, and the real Owen, Williams and Rodgers laughed warmly during, and strongly applauded after, the first night.

At an impromptu press conference afterwards, a genial and generous Owen astutely observed that what at the time was “a very happy day in our house” has been dramatised as tragicomedy. But, regardless of whether Marx was right about history repeating itself the second time as farce, the possibility that farce is being repeated in Labour Party history has encouraged a compelling play that is sublimely enjoyable but also deeply serious – on the question of when loyalty to party can become disloyalty to political responsibility.

“Limehouse” runs until 15 April

Mark Lawson is a journalist and broadcaster, best known for presenting Front Row on Radio 4 for 16 years. He writes a weekly column in the critics section of the New Statesman.

This article first appeared in the 23 March 2017 issue of the New Statesman, Trump's permanent revolution