Frieze Is Bringing Something New to the Paramount Backlot this Year

For the first time, the annual art extravaganza is staging an artist street fair

In its inaugural year (aka last year), Frieze Los Angeles brought a dizzying array of art activity to the Paramount Backlot. Beyond the confines of the main exhibition tent, aesthetes and celebrities meandered the studio’s New York streetscape—surreal in its own right—where a giant green vine wove in and out of the windows of a faux three-story brownstone, clouds and rainbows hung from a clotheslines strung between buildings, and a massive inflatable ketchup bottle glinted in the sun. Facades became actual storefronts, speakeasy bars, and restaurants.

This year promises the same sort of awe-inspiring, perspective-shattering installations and activations, plus something new: an artist street fair that’ll be a key component of the backlot experience during the run of the fair (Friday-Sunday, February 14-16).

Bettina Korek, executive director of Frieze Los Angeles, gave us the skinny.

Where did you come up with the idea for a street fair component? 

The street fair is an evolution of the goal to establish a long overdue annual moment for art in Los Angeles. The organizations setting up on the Backlot offer windows onto the various art worlds of Los Angeles. To name a few, Women’s Center for Creative Work, Artists 4 Democracy, Acid Free, and A-Z West are presenting everything from memberships programs and publications to ceramics and artist-painted rocks. It’s all a way of bringing some of L.A.’s different art worlds to Paramount—a reciprocal response to the fair catalyzing so much Frieze Week activity throughout the city.

How will it change the atmosphere on the backlot?

Last year artist organizations were scattered throughout the backlot, which was a lot of fun. This year we’ve invited more organizations to present and have organized a special section on the backlot, the artist street fair, which is an alley flanked by rows of booths. Visitors can meet people involved with Queen of Angels, GYOPO, Ooga Booga, Poetic Research Bureau, the Street and the Shop, and more. I hope by placing all these initiatives in proximity will capture some of the excitement I feel for the unique artist-led enterprises L.A. is so lucky to have. The artist street fair will also host book signings by writers like Jori Finkel and artists like Martine Syms—it’s a place for people to come together and make discoveries.

“It’s all a way of bringing some of L.A.’s different art worlds to Paramount—a reciprocal response to the fair catalyzing so much Frieze Week activity throughout the city.”

How did you select participants?

The artist street fair is just a sampling of organizations from around L.A. The invited participants illustrate different models of organizing artist-run initiatives. The Women’s Center for Creative Work cultivates L.A.’s feminist creative communities and practices, through exhibitions, events, and shared space. Ooga Booga, which recently closed its long-running Chinatown storefront, has been called an “icon of entrepreneurship,” setting the mold for artist retail in L.A. and beyond. Artists everywhere, and absolutely in Los Angeles, are facing challenges maintaining systems of support around their practices, where they work, and where they live. We hope that Frieze L.A. can be a productive catalyst for innovative models artists have developed in response to some of these challenges.

What are you most excited for?

I’m excited for ForYourArt’s contribution, not only because I founded ForYourArt, but because we’re turning our booth into a hub for conversation with our neighbors in the artist street fair and lots of other voices coming together at Frieze L.A. We’re presenting Telethon ForYourArt, and the pilot edition is hosted by Tierney Talks, the podcast of local multi-hyphenate Tierney Finster. We’re named it Telethon ForYourArt as a riff on a durational, cause-driven broadcast. Tierney is interviewing dozens of guests about the creative initiatives they make, support, and belong to, about art, entertainment, community, patronage, and we’ll be live-streaming via Instagram at @foryouart and @tstar7 all fair long.

How does this further Frieze’s mission in L.A.?

New York and London are cities like L.A., where every week of the year is teeming with art. Frieze Week took root organically in Frieze’s first two host cities. It became known as a reliable, exceptional time to visit—or as a local, to make time to explore. The idea of building something that could anchor an annual moment like this for L.A is what drew me to Frieze. In addition to being an access point for new and existing collectors, what will bring Frieze L.A. enduring success is a continued spirit of collaboration with the city of L.A.–the museums, galleries, and artist-run spaces here. And of course the artists. I am so proud that we have collaborated with Barbara Kruger this year. Her Untitled (Questions) are installed on buildings and billboards around the city and featured in the outdoor, print, and digital campaigns for Frieze Week. The fair availing itself as a platform for a provocative public art project that manifests throughout L.A., far and beyond our hub at Paramount, is a great encapsulation of Frieze L.A.’s mission.

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