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Joanna Stella-Sawicka  
Photo by Linda Nylind.

Jo Stella Sawicka Talks Frieze’s Focus on Women’s Visibility in the Market

Frieze London returns to Regent’s Park October 4–7. Following a successful new section last year, “Sex Work,” the fair continues its focus on increasing the visibility and representation of women in the art market with “Social Work.” In addition to over 160 galleries presenting their best and brightest, the fair features a dynamic Sculpture Park (which has been on view all summer), Frieze Projects programming, and a special performance from 2018 Frieze Artist Award–winner Alex Baczynski-Jenkins.

Whitewaller spoke with Frieze Art Fair’s artistic director, Jo Stella Sawicka, about the 2018 edition.

Joanna Stella Sawicka Photo by Linda Nylind

WHITEWALLER: This year Frieze debuts a new section dedicated to women who challenged the market, “Social Work.” What can we expect from this new section and why was this the right time to introduce it?

JO STELLA SAWICKA: “Social Work” focuses on the marketplace and women’s visibility and representation in the art world from the 1980s onwards. The section is timely given the Freelands Foundation report which highlighted the shocking underrepresentation of women at all levels across the arts. “Social Work” is also consciously global and diverse. I’m thrilled
that the artists were selected by 10 of today’s brightest minds—all women, experts in art history, and at the helm of influential institutions and publications across the U.K.

Uriel Orlow Uriel Orlow
Bounds (#2)
Chromogenic photograph mounted on diasec
60 × 90 cm
Courtesy of the artist and Laveronica arte contemporanea

WW: What role can the fair play in combating the underrepresentation of women in the art world?

JSS: Frieze Fairs are overseen by a team of women directors—so, arguably, we lead by example—but we also work closely with today’s significant and forward-thinking galleries and curators, who are best placed to champion women artists and their role in art history. Frieze offers exceptional visibility to its artists: More than 115,000 people visit Frieze London and Masters each year, and leading museum directors, curators, and patrons from across the world use the fair as a place for discovery and conversation.

Frieze London Courtesy of Frieze London.

Tate acquired two works from the “Sex Work” section last year for the national collection, and given the excitement around “Social Work” thus far I’m sure we’ll see major interest in the section, while celebrating galleries who have supported women in the marketplace. Frieze Masters also plays a vital role, with the Spotlight section a destination for museum sales by historically overlooked women artists of the 20th century.

WW: Can you tell us about the 2018 Frieze Artist Award–winner, Alex Baczynski-Jenkins, and what performance he’ll bring to the fair?

Hardeep Pandhal Hardeep Pandhal
“Self-Loathing Flashmob” (detail)
mixed media, (detail – enamel, MDF, aluminium)
Dimensions Variable
Photography by Alan Dimmick
Courtesy of Jhaveri Contemporary

JSS: The Frieze Artist Award has a focus on performance this year, including a new residency at Delfina Foundation, and we’re thrilled to be commissioning a major work by London-based artist Alex Baczynski-Jenkins. His recent performance show at Warsaw’s Foksal Gallery Foundation was critically acclaimed for using choreography to capture the pleasures of longing; and for Frieze, he will create a “queer zone” within the fair to explore desire, sensuality, and the politics of visibility through what the artist calls “furious dancing.”

WW: How are you working with Diana Campbell Betancourt, the curator of Frieze Projects, and what should we watch out for there?

Frieze London Courtesy of Frieze London.

JSS: Diana has exceptional energy, working between Brussels, Dhaka, and the Philippines, where she has overseen critically acclaimed and pioneering exhibitions, including Bruce Conner’s first major solo exhibition in Asia. Diana’s program at Frieze will build on her interests in experimental practice and brings together a fantastically global list of artists. Look out for Live performances by Pratchaya Phinthong, which will infiltrate the fair in the most unexpected spaces, involving visitors and staff; Camille Henrot’s interactive phone installation, using algorithms to answer audience’s life problems; plus new films by Lucy Raven, Paul Pfeiffer, and the Otolith Group.

WW: Who are some of the fair first-timers this year we should keep an eye out for?

JSS: In the main section, don’t miss Xavier Hufkens, Galerie Lelong & Co., and Galleri Nicolai Wallner; and in Focus, we welcome the fair’s first-ever Hong Kong gallery with Edouard Malingue.




This year at Frieze London, a series of mural-sized and kaleidoscopic abstract paintings by artist Lucy Bull lured in fairgoers to the booth of David Kordansky.


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