London Art Fair has faced increasing competition in recent years: First Frieze moved in on the international market then Art15 snapped at its heels with a whole new array of sexy swanky shiny bling, while the Affordable Art Fair has won over much of the lower end buying public by proffering stuff in the realm of commodity rather than investment. Yet the LAF provides much more than that; in addition to the annual showcase of new and emerging projects, an enormous photography project appears in the form of Photo50, providing an example of actual curation taking place within the fair.
In terms of buy-ability, the usual private galleries are selling eminently marketable stuff – though solidly in-between the cheaper AAF and the stupid-money Frieze – but there are the occasional high-end pitchers who always choose to exhibit something Frieze-worthy in terms of concept and all-out wtf-ness that guarantees them visibility in this environment.
This year’s talking point is Marcus Harvey (he of Myra Hindley painted by children’s handprints fame) presents a truly hideous bronze statue of Margaret Thatcher as part of a specially curated exhibit by the Jerwood Collection. It is a disturbingly grotesque contraption of crabs, scarily robust looking tits, pigs heads and a visage that might as well be the Ronald Reagan masks from Point Break, grinning away. No one in their right mind will buy this on aesthetic grounds, but it certainly is trying to out-George McCarthy George McCarthy. It’ll be the most talked about piece in this fair, which is good for Harvey because at Frieze it’d be lost amongst the actual George McCarthys.
I love a good hoax. Which is why those pranksters the Connor Brothers, more famous for satirising Mills & Boon book covers, have tickled me by cooking up a scheme to have an item on show purporting to be a bong pipe used by Lord Byron. Of course it isn’t, and whether or not everyone was actually duped or not doesn’t matter: it’s a good media story, though it’ll never be on a par with Bowie’s Nat Tate fiasco (god rest his soul).
In other news, Jonathan Jones continues his love letter to Tracey Emin with this article praising her flogging of a penis shaped charm bracelet as evidence of her “strengths as an artist who always has something new and eloquent to say.” Now there’s someone who is well and truly duped. Buying into this bare-faced lie makes you look like a total dickhead.