Frieze Masters, Frieze 2019 and Ai Wei Wei

10 - 08 - 19


On arrival to Frieze Masters, I got into the queue for the Ai Wei Wei interview and took rough transcripts of some of the questions posed to Ai Wei Wei (see transcript below).




Key artists of note during my visit to both Frieze fairs:


- When I Sleep - Tracey Emi, 2018.

- Cord - Jodie Carey, 2019.

Vulnerable in appearance yet materially strong, Cord references the unbreakable bond between mother and child.

- Untitled - Ma Desheng, 2011.

- Laura Asia’s Dream - Jaume Plensa, 2018.

- Fugitive Host - Felipe Baeza, 2019.

- “Document Relief (Amazon Worker Cage patent)” - Simon Denny, 2019.



Frieze Masters Talk:

Ai Weiwei in conversation

with Tim Marlow -

‘Anything But Art’

Stresses the importance of a 'universal use of media', as well as maintaining a connection to traditional Chinese methods and media used.


T: How important is national identity to your practice?

A: Not important at all, he just happens to be Chinese

T: How does aestheticism play apart in the work, very antiaesthetic in a sense, yet brings an almost industrial aesthetic

A: Not about beauty, about how one can relate themselves to the nature of our materials

Memory can be carried in all art forms, to understand our passed

A: ‘Memory is carried through art literature and music’

Highly Proustian in its regard for memory and arts role in sustaining memory


A: ‘Art collection as a sickness, you identify with something not everyone does, a religious practice if you will.’

Much in the same way collection of works in my own practice, of discarded

Items and personal effects can sometimes feel like a compulsion, the more items I stumble across the more I see and find around me.

A building of tradition through reinterpretation of salvaged works/collected – here I see similarity to the language that Roger Ballen uses in his own works through use of found/salvaged and collected items/works.

Exploration of static objects, with his dropping of the traditional ancient dynasty vase, cultural destruction/use – here one can see a destruction of uniqueness, a commodity in the art market

A: ‘Art is about risk, to destroy is necessary if you get a new elevated creation as a result’

Here I notice ties to the process of Christopher Wool a major influence for both my studio work and my MCP research.

T: Do you view yourself as a political artist?

A: Not necessarily a political artist, views his work as simple documentations of his life experience.

I see myself also in a similar vein with my choice to use recycled found objects as a decision based on recycling. For me my work tends to the more intimate human experience of transference of energy onto the objects, regardless of whether they are my own or found objects. With the case of the found objects I see them to hold their own intrinsic value and energetic weight – the fact I don’t know of their history is irrelevant in this case as energy that is imprinted on them from previous owners always can be felt. I do find myself iterating something similar to Ai Weiwei here a lot, explaining although recycling is something I encourage, it is more of a by-product, a bonus from my choice to use very historically loaded and energetically imprinted items/materials.

All forms of cultural mark making has a political value in a contemporary context, and like political values are up for scrutiny.

‘Aestheticism cannot escape morals’

T (On Ai Weiwei’s work ‘Straight’): Definitely an engagement with minimalism, in the repeated industrial form, yet it couldn’t be more charged, could not be less neutral. The idea that works of art can influence and be influenced by the space and context they inhabit.

In the case of this I share similar sentiment to the viewing of the more industrial aspect to my material choices, although static and sometimes symmetrical, there can still remain a charged form.

‘Straight’, 2008-2012, steel reinforcing bars, boxed and entomed



I gained first time insight into the art fair route of artist exposure, whilst also gaining personal inspiration for possible material uses and scaling options for the future.