Last week saw Frieze Art Fair descend on London. ICA Communications Assistant Ellen O'Donoghue Oddy summarises the ICA's eclectic week of programming, illustrated by photographs by various ICA staff members.
As Regent’s Park played host to sculptures and a complex of booths fit to rival the Grand Bazaar last week, the ICA became the location of live and late-night excursions into contemporary art. ICA Live offered London residents and Frieze Week visitors an eclectic alternative to their weeknights with a programme of dance, film, discussion and music that went on into the early hours.
The series kicked off on Monday with an Artists’ Talk from our current exhibiting artist James Richards, discussing his work in sound and moving image and launching the most significant publication on his work to date, Requests and Antisongs. The talk was followed by a performance from artist Andrew Kerton who presented his powerful performance piece _fieldnotes.
From Tuesday to Wednesday multi-disciplinary label PAN took over, presenting an audio-visual programme of lectures, live performances and screenings from its current artists. This ranged from a sonic interpretation of human DNA by Norwegian artist TCF (Lars Holdhun) to Lee Gamble’s entropic set of forty pitched dynamic patterns – described by The Guardian’s Ben Beaumont-Thomas as "beautiful machine funk and noise". The label also curated ICA Live afterparties for the two nights, which saw the ICA Bar remain open until 1am with complimentary drinks provided by Jägermeister. Tuesday night was hosted by emerging London-based music collective Bala Club, and Wednesday saw PAN founder Bill Kouligas lead the evening with fellow PAN artists.
On Thursday the ICA hosted a lunchtime discussion which shed light on the Sharjah Biennial 13 opening in March next year. Curator Christine Tohme and Director of Sharjah Art Foundation Hoor Al Qasimi discussed next year’s programmes and artists, exploring the current cultural landscape of the Middle East. In the evening, Art Post Capitalism continued on this theme in an exploration of the role of contemporary art in a capitalist economy. Artist Christopher Kulendran Thomas led this subversive discussion that explored how art can contribute to fiscal systems, rather than resist them. Following the talk, Spiritland took over the ICA Lower Bar to launch our latest exhibition in the ICA Fox Reading Room, Fluorescent Chrysanthemum. This display uses archive material to look back at the ICA's 1968 exhibition Fluorescent Chrysanthemum, which was the first presentation of experimental Japanese art, music, film and design in Europe.
On Friday it was time for New York-based Russian artist Sanya Kantarovsky to host a special Culture Now event, discussing his painting practice and launching his first monograph No Joke. Then closing the week on Saturday, Swedish choreographer Mårten Spångberg returned to the ICA with Natten: The Series, a seven hour ‘dance of horror’, combining choreography with hushed readings of short horror stories and an immersive set design.
While our building on the Mall played host to these powerful live events, the ICA could still be found at Frieze Art Fair itself. For the sixth year running we took part in Allied Editions – a collective of independent galleries which presents specially commissioned works of art donated by leading contemporary artists for as little as £40. All proceeds directly support the organisations’ exhibition and education programmes. This year, ICA launched our latest edition by ground-breaking contemporary artist Harold Ancart, ‘Untitled (Fall)’.
Not only was Frieze week a celebration of contemporary art, but it was also a celebration of ICA Executive Director Gregor Muir's five year tenure, as this was his final week before moving on to become Director of Collection of International Art at Tate. Always involved with the Frieze programme, Muir curated a selection of Artists Talks during the Fair and made his unofficial final farewell at our Allied Editions stall – giving a photo-perfect wave with Harold Ancart’s setting sun glowing behind him. ■