When Frieze New York brushed the sleep out of its eyes and opened its doors last year on a rainy spring day, the first hopeful sign of a resurrected art fair calendar became a reality. Things have been going well for the fair since. Both its London and Los Angeles editions were successful, not least because those fairs luckily bookended the swift rise and subsequent decline of the Omicron variant, which, in between, caused a global spike in Covid-19 cases. Because of the timing, organisers were able to maintain their planned schedule and, arguably, gain momentum.
Now, Frieze New York will once again be undertaking something new. Well, not entirely.
Christine Messineo was appointed the director of both the Frieze fairs in the US in November 2021 and, while this is her first time at the helm in New York, she says the programming will build on what she began in Los Angeles in February. As with the Californian edition, “the programming will highlight organisations that are often accessible incubators for creativity—those that have a mission based in community building”, Messineo says.
In honour of the fair’s tenth anniversary, the new director is highlighting artist-led not-for-profit organisations in the city that are also celebrating anniversaries, including A.I.R. Gallery, Artists Space, The Kitchen, Printed Matter and Electronic Arts Intermix (EAI). “I want to acknowledge how the current art world was shaped by those early not-for-profit histories while showing the influence they continue to have on our cultural context. So much work in one space informs the other and our worlds are increasingly porous,” Messineo says.
These non-profit spaces, most of which have been around since the 1970s, have shaped New York’s cultural fabric and have made lasting impressions on the city’s art scene. EAI has been an advocate for video and media art for more than 50 years, and its mission not only preserves video works by the medium’s forerunners, such as Nam June Paik and Bruce Nauman, but also celebrates and proliferates digital works by artists of subsequent generations, including Seth Price and the collective Paper Rad.
Printed Matter has helped democratise artists’ books (not to be confused with art books or monographs) as vessels for artists to make their work accessible and easily distributed. To celebrate these organisations, they are presenting installations in Frieze’s venue, the Shed, and events in their respective spaces.
Apart from having a strong foundation in the coastal US art scene—Messineo was previously a partner at the New York-based Bortolami gallery and a director at Hannah Hoffman in Los Angeles—she has a strong history of political engagement. In 2020 she founded Plan Your Vote, in association with Vote.org, to encourage US citizens to register. The initiative saw more than 200 artists and organisations take part. This year’s Frieze New York marks the launch of the initiative’s next phase, which includes on-site checking of voter status and allowing for registration for the upcoming US midterm elections.
Frieze will also present a suite of artist-led initiatives including a recreation of Tom Burr’s Eight Renovations, which was first realised in 1997 at sites across Manhattan and in the publication Opening, Periodico di Arte Contemporanea. Originally an essay that mapped the ephemeral nature of businesses and spaces in the city by highlighting bars, public parks and galleries that once existed or had recently emerged, the new iteration of Eight Renovations has been re-imagined as eight posters that, since late April, have been flyposted around the city. As a continuation of the project a new text by Burr, The Ninth Revelation, will also be installed at the Shed.