Goldsmiths Curatorial Critique

frieze – strina – lucas / and why it can still be worth it

Posted in Reviews by luizateixeiradefreitas on October 29, 2008

Installation View, Courtesy Galeria Luisa Strina, São Paulo

Installation View, Courtesy Galeria Luisa Strina, São Paulo

As I entered the big white tent in Regents Park, nothing seemed different than before. It was Frieze week in London and the big opening day had arrived.
Collectors – check! Galleries – Check! Curators – Check! Artworks – Check! Everything was in place. Everyone was present.
The 8000 people that strolled around the various booths, drinking their cocktails, gave the impression that everything was just like any of the fair’s past four editions. Effectively, the “credit crunch” seemed far away from this scenery.

In the midst of this social gathering, something rather discreet came to my attention; it was Renata Lucas’ window piece at Galeria Luisa Strina. Going through the booth’s entrance two glass structures in rectangular shape boxes were built into the wall on each side, forming two different sized parts of the same window. Inside of them the artist placed beautiful see through white curtains and a plant. So, when entering the booth, it felt almost as if entering someone’s home – the window becoming an element of the architectural design of the space.
The artist appropriated the booth to play with the notion of creating new environments within the existing ones, as she so often does in her works. Lucas achieves this in very subtle ways, leaving the passer-by to wonder if it was already there, if it is an artwork or maybe just ornament, if you are supposed or not to touch, smell, feel.
What is definitely interesting in this specific work is the way in which she plays with the social and architectural structure of a fair booth, making it something different from what it normally is supposed to be, transforming its regular circumstance of being a commercial white cube with an agglomerate of works, to a new condition, that of a white cube with a glass window garden structure within it.

Coming back to Frieze on the second day, the inevitable happened. Wandering through the fair, the difference to past years was after all undoubtedly noticeable.
In a “normal” year, when entering the space of any of the “hype” galleries of the moment, it would be practically an impossible task to get some, if any, attention from one of the three, four, sometimes even five staff, who would be always busy with ten thousand different requests from upcoming collectors. Now, as in other times, these people were there, but their condition had changed dramatically – chitchatting to each other, waiting for time to pass, as if it were the last Sunday of the venue.

Maybe, in a sense, we’re back to reality and back to art as what it really should be about. One thing is for sure, Luisa Strina’s space, always strategically positioned in the middle of this art jungle called the art fair, seems to, in some way, continuously rescue art from falling into any kind of 21st century cliché.

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