Photography by Prudence Cuming Associates Ltd, courtesy of Marc Quinn studio

So What If London’s Biggest Art Fair Is On? Do This Instead

What to do and see during Frieze when you don’t have a spare million to spend.

London's Frieze art fair had close to 60,000 visitors last year. Given the hordes of collectors, dealers, and art-enthusiasts who travel to the city just to attend the fair, the number of actual London residents who attend the fair (entry: 34 pounds) will probably be minimal. 

The events surrounding the fair, however, are seen, attended, and (arguably) enjoyed by far more people. Whether it's a party, an opening, or an installation, there's something for everyone. Here are our top picks.  

Emily Jacir at the Whitechapel

Whitechapel Gallery - Emily Jacir, Lydda Airport, 2009
Whitechapel Gallery - Emily Jacir, Lydda Airport, 2009
Photo: Jason Mandella, © Emily Jacir, courtesy Alexander and Bonin

Recommending that art lovers attend the Whitechapel Gallery is about as obvious as telling someone who's thirsty that they should try this crazy thing called "water." Still, the exhibition of art by Emily Jacir, a Palestinian contemporary artist who won a Golden Lion at the 2007 Venice Art Biennial, is worthy of special note: Her lovely, haunting, highly political films and installations are as mesmerizing as any blockbuster. Through Jan. 3, 2016

 

Serpentine Transformation Marathon

Serpentine Galleries, The Transformation Marathon - Gabriel Ann Maher, Transformation Sequence
Serpentine Galleries, The Transformation Marathon - Gabriel Ann Maher, Transformation Sequence
Source: Gabriel Ann Maher

This is the 10th anniversary of the Serpentine's Marathon series, a once-a-year, 12-hour event founded by the curator/art superstar Hans Ulrich Obrist, where artists (previous participants include Marina Abramović, Brian Eno, and Yoko Ono) bat around off-the wall ideas, perform, and engage with the (generally pretty rowdy) audience. This year's theme is "Transformation" and deals with subjects as varied as transgender politics and changes in art, literature, and design. Saturday, Oct, 17, 10 a.m.–10 p.m.

 

Marc Quinn Installation at the Somerset House Courtyard

Somerset House, Marc Quinn: Frozen Waves, Broken Sublimes
Somerset House, Marc Quinn: Frozen Waves, Broken Sublimes
Photo: Prudence Cuming Associates Ltd, Courtesy of Marc Quinn studio

Marc Quinn is probably best known for his more outlandish sculptures—he made one of his head, Self, out of his own frozen blood. This time around, he's installed four massive stainless steel sculptures in the courtyard of Somerset House, a stately neo-classical palace in central London. The installation, titled Frozen Waves, Broken Sublimes, will certainly be tamer than Quinn's bodily-fluid-themed works but should, in its own way, be more interesting. Through Oct. 21

 

ÅYR at Native Informant

ÅYR, Interior Illusions Lounge 007, 2015
ÅYR, Interior Illusions Lounge 007, 2015
Courtesy of the artist and Project Native Informant London

It often pays (literally and metaphorically) to know about the newest spate of art world darlings. ÅYR, an art and architecture collective formerly known as AIRBNB Pavilion—if you can believe it, Airbnb the company sent them a cease and desist—has, in the past year and a half, participated in more than 15 exhibitions, lectures, and workshops across Europe. Focused on domesticity (and lack thereof), technology, and the urban fabric, they have a show at Native Informant in Mayfair and are also participating in a Frieze Project, part of a program sponsored by the fair itself. Through Nov. 7

 

Jon Rafman at the Zabludowicz Collection

Jon Rafman, Mainsqueeze, 2014 (still)
Jon Rafman, Mainsqueeze, 2014 (still)

The Zabludowiczes, a wealthy, London-based family, converted a former 19th-century methodist church into an airy contemporary art space. For this exhibition, they've commissioned the Canadian artist Jon Rafman to do a series of works. Accordingly, he's created a series of installations, including what they describe as "a large-scale artificial hedge-maze populated with digitally manipulated sculptural busts." Through Dec. 20

 

Gerhard Richter at Dominique Levy

Gerhard Richter, 180 Farben (180 Colours), 1971
Gerhard Richter, 180 Farben (180 Colours), 1971
Photographer: David Brandt

Some of the biggest collectors in the world will descend on London for Frieze. Not coincidentally, many of the galleries in London are pulling out the stops. Dominique Levy, whose London branch of her eponymous gallery opened last year, is doing an exhibition of Gerhard Richter's very rare (and very expensive) color charts. Oct. 13–Jan. 16, 2016

 

Ugo Rondinone at Sadie Coles

Ugo Rondinone, Installation view, Clouds + Mountains + Waterfalls
Ugo Rondinone, Installation view, Clouds + Mountains + Waterfalls
Todd-White Art Photography, courtesy of Sadie Coles HQ, London

There are a few exhibitions this season that everyone will have been to—or at least claimed to have been to. Ugo Rondinone's cheerful if not especially challenging installation of neon sculptures and paintings at Sadie Coles (Clouds + Mountains + Waterfalls) is one of those shows. Go, enjoy, and, invariably, Instagram. Through Oct. 24

 

ICA Opening Party and Frieze Bar Launch

To say that the Institute of Contemporary Arts in the center of London has embraced Frieze week would be an understatement. It has timed its newest exbhition, Zhang Ding: Enter the Dragon to coincide with the launch of the fair, and it has inaugurated its first official (and, presumably, "unofficial") Frieze Bar, with DJs, musical guests, and, well, a bar, all of which will run for the entire week. Oct. 12–16

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