Don’t just stand there, take part

Artists at Frieze New York tackle issues of mortality, agency and trust—and their works require fairgoers to join in


In museums, visitors are often warned not to touch the art. But at Frieze New York, there are a number of works that invite viewers to activate them through participation.

On the Athens-based Breeder gallery’s stand is a mirrored installation by the artist Chrysanne Stathacos, originally presented at Andrea Rosen Gallery. Called 1-900 Mirror Mirror (1993) and priced at $45,000, the work requires viewers to sit in a metal seat to see their faces reflected infinitely by the mirrored walls. After picking up a then-cutting-edge but now-outdated videophone, they are asked: “Do you have a question for the future?”, and are then given a tarot-card reading. The installation, which was still available to buy on Friday, forces people to consider their fate and mortality. Readings will be held every day during the final two hours of the fair.

Many of the battery-operated works in Dawn Kasper’s unmanned band at David Lewis gallery must be turned on by the viewer with the flick of a switch. They include a string of jingling bells (NGC 2632, 2017) and a high-hat cymbal (The Chained Foot, 2017) connected to miniature motors. The works range in price from $16,000 to $18,000, and four have already sold. Kasper is taking part in this year’s Venice Biennale, where she set up her nomadic studio six months ahead of next week’s opening.

On Galeria Nara Roesler’s stand is an installation by the California-born artist Paul Ramirez Jonas, priced at $65,000, that was used in a public performance in Boston last year. There, people were asked to make a promise, the pact sealed by the artist using an object or a gesture of symbolic power, such as blood or a Bible. Jonas has spelled out the oaths in marquee letters and has made rubbings of them, but will not be eliciting new promises at the fair.

On Sunday, the Frieze Projects tribute—which this year revisits Galleria La Tartaruga’s 1968 Teatro delle Mostre show—will re-present Fabio Mauri’s Luna, giving visitors the chance to frolic in a moonscape made of polystyrene pellets.