Dave Hickey in Vanity Fair

December 4, 2008 · Print This Article

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I am in New York for the rest of the week so I there probably will be no posts until Monday. When I get back I’ll update with some of the shows I saw. In the meantime check out Dave Hickey’s piece in the December issue of Vanity Fair. Hickey recounts his experience from last years Frieze and Miami Basel shows.

via Dave Hickey for Vanity Fair

The Frieze Art Fair building is plopped down amid the verdure of Regent’s Park. I step out of the cab, take one look, and here’s what I think: if, rather than recruiting Tony Blair to attack Saddam Hussein, George W. Bush had simply attacked Tony Blair; and if, in the ensuing Armageddon of reciprocal fecklessness, George had actually won, the American officers’ mess in London would look a lot like the Frieze building. The interior, I know, will be temporaneo con amenità, the same M.D.F. and Euro-chic fixtures, the tall, transparent drapes in the lounge, the decorative chrome in the restrooms, and the scatterings of knockoff designer chairs. From the street, the interlocking white rectangular units are all but occluded by aggressive fencing and other accoutrements of surveillance. The security staff would suffice at Guantánamo, which sets me to imagining football mobs, driven berserk at the prospect of new drawings by Marlene Dumas.

In short, the building is scary, but I am a professional. I yank down the bill of my All Blacks cap, hunch my shoulders, and soldier through the rain, imagining my own diagonal traverse across the screen of a video monitor. Then I’m inside, and it’s just snooty art stuff. I walk up to the credentials window and receive a colored card that proclaims my degree of access. I get a really “good colored” card, but even so, I know that there are better cards. I know that there are people around me who have the best card, the Willy Wonka card that will pass them through enclosures of escalating exclusivity and ultimately bring them into the presence of … oh, I don’t know … maybe Sir Nicholas Serota, the very icon of Labor gentry, in a tan, glen plaid suit, comfortably disposed in a Gehry Power-Play Club Chair with a matching ottoman to support his Crockett & Jones wing tips. Sir Nicholas will turn, smile, and lift a snifter of brandy to welcome the chosen, and someone’s life will be complete.

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