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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Out with the old: how new species are evolving faster than ever

A future geologist will look back to the present day as a time of diversification, as well as extinction.

Human population growth, increased consumption, hunting, habitat destruction, pollution, invasive species and now climate change are turning the biological world on its head. The consequence is that species are becoming extinct, perhaps faster than at any time since the dinosaurs died out 66 million years ago. This is an inconvenient truth.

But there are also convenient truths. Britain has gained about 2,000 new species over the past two millennia, because our predecessors converted forests into managed woodlands, orchards, meadows, wheat fields, roadsides, hedgerows, ponds and ditches, as well as gardens and urban sprawl, each providing new opportunities.

Then we started to transport species deliberately. We have the Romans to thank for brown hares and the Normans for rabbits. In the 20th century, ring-necked parakeets escaped from captivity and now adorn London’s parks and gardens.

Climate warming is bringing yet more new species to our shores, including little egrets and tree bumblebees, both of which have colonised Britain in recent years and then spread so far north that I can see them at home in Yorkshire. Convenient truth No 1 is that more species have arrived than have died out: most American states, most islands in the Pacific and most countries in Europe, including Britain, support more species today than they did centuries ago.

Evolution has also gone into overdrive. Just as some species are thriving on a human-dominated planet, the same is true of genes. Some genes are surviving better than others. Brown argus butterflies in my meadow have evolved a change in diet (their caterpillars now eat dove’s-foot cranesbill plants, which are common in human-disturbed landscapes), enabling them to take advantage of a warming climate and spread northwards.

Evolution is a second convenient truth. Many species are surviving better than we might have expected because they are becoming adapted to the human-altered world – although this is not such good news when diseases evolve immunity to medicines or crop pests become resistant to insecticides.

A third convenient truth is that new species are coming into existence. The hybrid Italian sparrow was born one spring day when a male Spanish sparrow (the “original” Mediterranean species) hitched up with a female house sparrow (which had spread from Asia into newly created farmland). The descendants of this happy union live on, purloining dropped grains and scraps from the farms and towns of the Italian peninsula. Some of those grains are wheat, which is also a hybrid species that originated as crosses between wild grasses in the Middle East.

This is not the only process by which new species are arising. On a much longer time scale, all of the species that we have released on thousands of islands across the world’s oceans and transported to new continents will start to become more distinct in their new homes, eventually separating into entirely new creatures. The current rate at which new species are forming may well be the highest ever. A future geologist will look back to the present day as a time of great diversification on Earth, as well as a time of extinction.

The processes of ecological and evolutionary change that brought all of Earth’s existing biological diversity into being – including ourselves – is continuing to generate new diversity in today’s human-altered world. Unless we sterilise our planet in some unimagined way, this will continue. In my book Inheritors of the Earth, I criss-cross the world to survey the growth in biological diversity (as well as to chart some of the losses) that has taken place in the human epoch and argue that this growth fundamentally alters our relationship with nature.

We need to walk a tightrope between saving “old nature” (some of which might be useful) and facilitating what will enable the biological world to adjust to its changed state. Humans are integral to Earth’s “new nature”, and we should not presume that the old was better than the new.

“Inheritors of the Earth: How Nature Is Thriving in an Age of Extinction” by Chris D Thomas is published by Allen Lane

This article first appeared in the 20 July 2017 issue of the New Statesman, The new world disorder