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Frieze New York, taking place this week at The Shed and online, has centered part of its curatorial programming around a tribute to Sarah Elizabeth Lewis’s Vision & Justice Project. Coinciding with the run of the fair (May 5—9, with a virtual edition, live through May 14), more than 50 galleries have joined in support of the organization, which highlights art as a tool for understanding race and citizenship in the United States, inspired by the activism of Frederick Douglas.
“This Tribute was born of reflection. The tragedy of the global pandemic this past year provided the necessary time to consider programming for Frieze New York anew,” said Loring Randolph, Frieze New York’s Director of Programming. “The aim was to integrate a more rigorous and historical narrative into the fair context, and with the support of our participating galleries, to unite our community in an overarching mission that could potentially create a similar pause for change.”
As part of the initiative, Frieze has commissioned the artists Carrie Mae Weems and Hank Willis Thomas to imagine their own tributes, which will include a recreation of Thomas’s Who Taught You To Love billboard from 2020 and a monumental presentation of book covers featuring members of Vision & Justice Project by Weems. The fair is also hosting two virtual film screenings including Aggie (adocumentary exploring art, race, and justice) and Black Art: In the Absence of Light from HBO, and the presentation of a billboard by Mel Chin stating solidarity with Asian, Pacific Islander, and Asian American communities will take place in collaboration with For Freedoms.
Answering the question, “How are the arts responsible for disrupting, complicating, or shifting narratives of visual representation in the public realm?,” programming from participating galleries will include Kavi Gupta’s conversation between the artist Manual Mathieu and collector Pamela J. Joyner; David Zwirner’s presentation of a photograph by Stan Douglas titled 7 August 1934, which looks at the lifespan of the original Pennsylvania Station; Pace Gallery’s in-person video screenings from “Vision & Justice: A Convening,” and more.
“The number of participating galleries and museums involved, the groundswell of engagement around this important framework is exactly the type of effort that evokes change. In the end, what Frieze New York has created here is a chance to reflect and harness the power of what an art fair can be after the global pandemic and a way forward for the future,” said Lewis.