Frieze London 2014 – A Visual Feast: A column by Emergeast
Dima Abdul Kader & Nikki Meftah report
Frieze London 2014 proved that art has no boundaries and every media is art – every year, painting, photography and mixed media installations have taken the reigns respectively, with the token interactive moving human art installation wandering the tent of course. However, this year Frieze London showed clear signs of the latter firmly taking a prominent foothold in the world of art appreciation and consideration. Frieze London 2014 exhibited a noticeable shift and focus onto conceptual installations and performance art as never before seen in previous Frieze years.
Beyond the use of everyday objects jumbled together to create the ornate, disturbing and simply provocative – Frieze 2014 had a 'LIVE' booth, a space solely dedicated to the medium of performance art. A true visual feast, meandering through the aisles and booths, the eclectic art media provided a level of stimuli deemed acceptable only in the name of art.
So, how did Middle Eastern art fare at this year’s fair in the midst of such trends?
The returning visitors Third Line Gallery and Sfeir Semler Gallery, two galleries representing the Middle East, showed the works of some of the Middle East's renowned names such as Third Line's Youssef Nabil and Semler's continuous showing of Akram Zaatari – whereby photography and sculpture as main media seen in the two galleries.
It was interesting to see that this year a number of Western galleries had a noticeable focus on some Middle Eastern artist's work as well as reflections from the region. A particular piece that caught our eye was an image of a sole figure walking against the old historic backdrop of the ancient city of Jerusalem, this piece was exhibited by the blue chip Marian Goodman gallery from New York, explaining to us this series is by the famous Thomas Struth, who has spent a lot of time in the Middle East capturing such moments.
Another artwork that grabbed our utmost attention is by Jonathas de Andrade, a young Brazilian artist who lives and works in Brazil but who has spent a lot of time in Amman, Jordan recently for his residency. We found his work displayed by his home Brazilian gallery of much intrigue – de Andrade spent his time in the Middle East attempting to figure out what Jesus looks like, as Jesus is from the Middle East after all, so his look a-likes must be rife right?
The noticeable increase of Middle Eastern and Western artists exhibiting from the region shines light on the prominence of the Middle East in a western landscape. Frieze London 2014 has confirmed a strong upcoming presence of both Western and Middle Eastern artists turning East to explore and decipher our regional, social, economic and political landscapes through art. We can surely say next year will bring us more from the region and who knows what eclectic media is in store for us... A Ballet Dabkeh performance anyone?
Dima Abdul Kader and Nikki Meftah are the founders of Emergeast, discover more here.