Frieze: The party’s over now

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Frieze: The party’s over now

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Friday evening and the Frieze behemoth has roared into after-party mode. At the Camden Arts Centre, gallery owners and buyers neck champagne as quickly as it can be poured. But many palettes are jaded—it’s been like this every night since the art fair began. A Frieze party needs a little extra something.

Climb the stairs to the galleries, and talk to the glacial blonde sitting beneath a unicorn’s head. She only speaks Russian. You can’t understand what she’s saying and she can’t understand you. So what? Here’s a shot of ice-cold vodka and a plastic ruler; now walk into the dark.

Strobe light picks out a scaffold covered in plastic sheeting, hanging mirrors, a guitar. More guests are wandering around, some hiding their confusion better than others. A bare-footed man dressed in white stands against the wall, blended into the background like an arctic fox. This is the artist and host, Simon Raven. His hands are over his face. Every so often he opens them to reveal flashing red bike lights where his eyes should be.

Hungry? Don’t worry, there’s food. Single blueberries on cocktail sticks, served by people whose entire heads are covered in tin foil. They approach, bowing their crinkly skulls. The cocktail sticks are stuck into their heads. Take as many blueberries as you like!

Tired? There are seats, but they are wrapped in cling film. You could sit on the spiral staircase in the corner of the room (it leads to a door with another unicorn on it)—no, that’s wrapped in cling film too. Try not to think about it. Instead, admire the walking stick poking out of a smoker’s pipe. Look through these 3D glasses at a picture in the dark. Have another vodka. Is the Russian woman angry with you? Have you taken too many blueberries? What is the ruler for?

The whole thing is about the cold, isn’t it? Frieze. Freeze. Right? Or is it about Russia? But then what do those unicorns have to do with anything? Try not to think about it. The lights are flashing. The vodka is making your head swim a little. How do people do this for four days?

“What’s happening?” exclaims a man in a Nehru jacket behind you.

“Art,” answers a woman at his side. “That’s what’s happening.”

  1. October 21, 2012

    simon raven

    Thank you Simon for a lovely review : )

    ‘Ghost Writer Party’

    My next event at Camden Arts Centre is on Halloween, Weds Oct 31st, 6-9pm. ‘The Iceberg Lounge’ will have melted, to be replaced by ‘Calvary Club’. A fancy dress theme is ‘Literary Ghost’ (alluding to Camden’s Arts Centre being sited at an old library) and there’ll be a prize ‘Pug in Space’ painting for the best outfit. Live music from Flat Soufflée, guest star performances, Inhuman Canapés, blood-shots, and the launch of my residency ‘file note’ publication, written by Brian Catling. The event is free and open to all, book now on the Camden Arts Centre web site.

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Simon Wroe
Simon Wroe is a former chef and author of the forthcoming novel “Chop Chop” (Penguin). 

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