STIR highlights notable pieces from Frieze London 2022

Examining the works around the concept of non-human, we identify five pieces that resonated beyond the historical rituals, traditions, and conventions at Frieze London 2022.

by STIRworldPublished on : Oct 18, 2022

The recently concluded Frieze London 2022, held from October 12-16, presented magnificent works at different booths of the eagerly awaited art fair that featured everything from paintings and sculptures to installations.

STIR focuses on the works that uniquely revolved around the idea of non-human during our visit to Frieze London 2022, considering how they all are centred around the similar theme of a non-human world. The theme is not necessarily limited to 'without human', but could be seen with an expanded view bound by history and customs. We include works that emphasised healing by incorporating rituals and traditions, such as thoughts of non-human time mirrored by clocks, and others that contributed away from current understandings of the human race and progress by going to the roots and soils. As we examine the works that went beyond the concept of humanity, we focus on contemporary artists such as Agniezka Polska, represented by Union Pacific gallery in London, and Elia Sime, represented by James Cohan gallery in New York, USA. In addition, we look at Rafael Domenech's works, which are presented by Hua International gallery in Germany, Laure Prouvost's works, which are presented by Lisson Gallery in the United Kingdom, and works by Chilean artist Patricia Domnguez, which are presented by Cecilia Brunson gallery, a South American art gallery in London.

Here are five artworks from Frieze London 2022 that caught our attention.

Braudel’s Clock – Sun and Moth, 2022, Chromalux print on aluminium, UV print on acrylglass, rotating aluminium and steel clock mechanism, Agnieszka Polska | Frieze London | STIRworld
Braudel’s Clock – Sun and Moth, 2022, Chromalux print on aluminium, UV print on acrylglass, rotating aluminium and steel clock mechanism, Agnieszka Polska Image: Courtesy of Union Pacific

1. Agnieszka Polska

Inspired by historian Fernand Braudel's notion that the planet is a complex system of structures evolving at different rates, Polish artist Agnieszka Polska has created a series of mobile sculptural art that, like clocks, spin at different speeds. The six 'Braudel's clocks' on display at Frieze London are created by overlaying circular translucent printed acrylglas over laser-cut aluminium, each spinning from a controlled motor, with the speeds representing seconds, minutes, and hours of a clock. Braudel used the word ‘longue durée’ - French for 'long duration' - in 1956 to describe how historians may use slower techniques of investigation to separate and reassemble time. In reverence to this - and to the layering techniques Polska uses in her animations cut for films - she accumulates various phenomena onto what she describes as “one environment of overlapping timescales”. Insects, leaves, washing capsules, cigarette butts, plasters, and other objects with varying lifespans are collaged onto the plastic.

The digits on the clock faces get more distorted over the six pieces as if they were applied wet. In others, the digits are either missing entirely or hidden under monochrome or printed scenes. Polska's sculptures are intended to combine paradoxical images influenced by comedy and sorrow, with each sphere becoming an elliptical window into parts of time.

Installation view for the Lisson Gallery Frieze London Booth, Solo presentation by Laure Prouvost, Lisson Gallery | Frieze London | STIRworld
Installation view for the Lisson Gallery Frieze London Booth, a solo presentation by Laure Prouvost, Lisson Gallery Image: Courtesy of Lisson Gallery

2. Laure Prouvost

Laure Prouvost creates an immersive experience within the show with her sensual, participative solo exhibition for Lisson Gallery's 2022 Frieze booth. The audience is invited into the embrace of the octopus and other exotic animals - a realm without borders, but rather a union and expansion of storylines spanning art, video, sculpture, protest banners, and silk flags. The artist subtly invites the observer to interact with vital topics such as immigration, climate change, species extinction, and societal polarisation.

SEE STAR IN ONE ANOTHER, SEE STAR TOGETHER AS ONE, and SEE STAR MORE SEE (all 2022) - three freestanding, large-scale paintings - form an intriguing enclosure within the booth. The paintings' main protagonist is an octopus: a mystical entity regularly featured in Prouvost's art, frequently referred to as a metaphor for the planet as one of the oldest brains that exist today. The octopus is also a powerful emblem of life-giving and maternal sacrifice (after a mother octopus lays her eggs, she stops eating and wastes away, dying before the eggs hatch). Because an octopus' organs are placed in her tentacles, she thinks by feeling and feels by thinking - and, because she lacks memory, she pushes us to forget what we know and focus on the current now.

Tightrope, 2022, Reclaimed electrical wires and components on panel, Elias Sime|Frieze London | STIRworld
Tightrope, 2022, Reclaimed electrical wires and components on panel, Elias Sime Image: Elias Sime; Courtesy of the artist and James Cohan, New York

3. Elias Sime

Elias Sime masterfully weaves, layers, and assembles discarded materials—computer keyboards, motherboards, and electrical wires—into abstract compositions that evoke geography, figuration, and magnificent colour fields in his Tightrope series.

He frequently constructs complicated works out of electrical components such as circuit boards, computer keys, and telecommunications connections. Sime believes that the history of these items is significant and that their relevance emerges after careful investigation. They allude to the tensions between tradition and development, human interaction and social networks, natural and man-made, and physical presence and virtual presence in our linked world.

Sime's visual art ranges from complex stories to stark modernist abstraction. He is equally interested in a broken mobile phone motherboard as he is in an animal skull or a worn-out button: the artist sees past the emotional weighing of new vs old, instead seeing rejuvenation everywhere and being most interested in the ways that things and ideas may interact in new ways.

Social Factory, Installation, Rafael Domench Image: Courtesy of Hua International on Instagram

4. Rafael Domenech

Rafael Domenech's installation Social Factory (Chair Chorus) for Frieze Focus 2022 radically empowers visitors to carry a message and become authors, readers, furniture makers, painting contemplators, and workers when they entered this ever-changing field of artworks; transforming the fair booth from a passive site of consumption into an active site of production. Each piece is built of three modular design plywood squares and one square laser-cut felt that looks to be just two things - a chair and a cushion - and is made from 12 black and white photo collages. The work is divided into three parts: radical art object, functional (educational) device, and visual language of painting.

In the Social Factory, the work presents production as an act of collection and watching as a type of labour. Domenech's work deals with and employs the collapsing mode, causing all of the components to fall apart and crush down to the smallest possible units. Collapse is also a metaphor for the artist escaping Cuba to make transporting his personal belongings across borders as simple as possible. The interest with collapse and making items mobile is shared by other Latin American artists who use colour as code.

Patricia Domnguez’s works at Frieze London 2022 | Frieze London | STIRworld
Patricia Domnguez’s works at Frieze London 2022 Image: Eva Herzog; Courtesy of Cecilia Brunson

5. Patricia Domnguez

Cecilia Brunson gallery displays the work by Chilean artist Patricia Domnguez at Frieze London's curated area. The section called Indra’s Net is curated by Sandhini Poddar. For her most recent project, the artist spent time at CERN learning about quantum physics, non-locality, and entanglement. She then spent a month in Peru, immersed in nature and studying from a plant healer. The work being displayed is inspired by the confluence of these two study trips.

Domnguez studies healing practises and ethnobotany concerning colonialism and neoliberalism. Through her works, she analyses the potential of the 'Vegetal Matrix' as an ally through which humanity may extend its consciousness and reconnect through her research into pre-Columbian ideas in South America regarding the interrelationships of the living world. Domnguez's multimedia works contrast vegetal myths, symbols, and rituals with a study of the labour, emotion, duty, and liberation links among living species in an increasingly corporate cosmos. The multimedia artist’s works are inspired by her childhood in Chile and her sense of the nation as a neoliberal laboratory. They are intended to exorcise the consequences of late capitalism and ecological damage in the physical and social body. 

Text by Vatsala Sethi (Asst. Editorial Coordinator (Arts))

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