Here Are the 10 London Shows Everyone Will Be Talking About During Frieze Week

From Richard Wilson's mesmerizing oil spill to Elmgreen & Dragset's transformation of the Whitechapel Gallery, here are our favorite shows during Frieze London.

Elmgreen & Dragset in The Whitechapel Pool (2018). Installation view. Courtesy of Whitechapel Gallery. Photo by Doug Peters.

London is an embarrassment of riches during Frieze week. As the art world descends, nearly every museum, non-profit, and commercial gallery in town is involved with a major show of some kind. As much as we wish we could be in multiple places at once, the time crunch and London’s sprawl make it impossible to take everything in, so curating your visit is a must.

To help combat your Frieze FOMO, here are our 10 must-see shows during the week.

Pierre Huyghe

Courtesy of the artist and Serpentine Galleries; © Kamitani Lab / Kyoto University and ATR.

WHAT: Artificial intelligence and traditional practice collide in Huyghe’s latest exhibition, which continues the conceptual artist’s exploration into what happens when the artist is not the sole decision-maker in a work’s creation. On large LED screens throughout the gallery, Huyghe is showing a series of surreal images that began in the mind of a human but have been mediated by a machine. The images have been created by a deep neural network attempting to identify a picture from just the brain activity of a human being thinking of a specific situation.

As visitors walk through the gallery they may pick up some dust, as the walls have been sanded down to reveal the ghosts of exhibitions past. They will also be accompanied by thousands of flies, spewed out of the central gallery, which has been turned into an incubator for the occasion.

WHERE: Serpentine Gallery, Kensington Gardens, W2 3XA

WHEN: October 3 through February 10, 2019.


Turner Prize Exhibition

Forensic Architecture, The Long Duration of a Split Second, consisting of two projects, Killing in Umm al-Hiran 18 January 2017, Negev/Naqab, Israel/Palestine Investigation: 2015-ongoing, video, aerial images, text. Turner Prize 2018, Tate Britain.

WHAT: Back at Tate Britain for its 34th edition after last year’s detour to Hull, the Turner Prize exhibition will feature the work of four British artists.

Forensic Architecture, the interdisciplinary team of architects, filmmakers, lawyers and scientists (but not artists!) use the built environment to explore human rights violations. They’re up with their investigation The Long Duration of a Split Second. Then there’s Naeem Mohaiemen, whose films Tripoli Cancelled (2017), and Two Meetings and a Funeral (2017) investigate transnational left politics in the postwar period, the legacy of decolonization, and the rewriting of memories of political utopias. The Glasgow-based video artist Charlotte Prodger is showing her moving image work BRIDGIT (2016), which explores issues surrounding queer identity, landscape, language, technology, and time. Last but not least is Luke Willis Thompson, whose films Cemetery of Uniforms and Liveries (2016), Autoportrait (2017), and _Human (2018) tackle traumatic histories of class, racial and social inequality, institutional violence, colonialism, and forced migration.

The exhibition is a talking point this week as reviewers are divided and there has been some controversy surrounding Willis Thompson’s nomination for the prize. Everyone will be weighing in on their pick ahead of the panel decision, which won’t be announced until the award ceremony in December.

WHERE: Tate Britain, Millbank, SW1P 4RG

WHEN: September 26 through January 6, 2019.


Elmgreen & Dragset

Elmgreen & Dragset, The Whitechapel Pool (2018). Installation view. Courtesy of Whitechapel Gallery Photo by Jack Hems.

WHAT: Although the Dane, Michael Elmgreen, and the Norwegian, Ingar Dragset, have been working together since 1995, “This Is How We Bite Our Tongue,” is the duo’s first major overview in the UK. Fittingly, they have transformed the entire ground floor level of the gallery into an abandoned public swimming pool, an ambitiously haunting installation that is meant to tackle the gentrification of London’s East End.

The show includes six new sculptures and 29 works created in the past 20 years of their collaborative work. The work is socially poignant and prompts viewers to ponder contemporary social and sexual politics. Their series of self-portraits comprising their artistic inspirations, from Louise Bourgeois to Mark Morrisroe, offer their answer to selfie culture, and you can sit at a desk and take a drink of whiskey while you think about it. Some of the figurative sculptures are presented like religious icons, pointing to misguided reverence, and others question traditional understandings of masculinity (after all, these are the artists that mounted a young boy on a rocking horse among the admirals of Trafalgar Square for their Fourth Plinth project).

WHERE: Whitechapel Gallery, Aldgate,  E1 7QX

WHEN: September 26 through January 13, 2019.


Heidi Bucher

Heidi Bucher, installation view at Parasol unit, London, 2018. Photograph by Benjamin Westoby. Courtesy of Parasol unit foundation for contemporary art.

WHAT: Following last year’s UK introduction of Martin Puryear (who is now representing the US in the Venice Biennale next year), the gallery is staging the first UK survey of the Swiss artist Heidi Bucher, 25 years after her death. Under-recognized during her lifetime, Bucher’s latex casts of the human body, room interiors, objects, and clothing (which she hauntingly dubbed “skinnings”) are suspended from the ceiling, hung on the walls, and placed on the floor of the gallery.

Included among the ethereal “room skins” are the Swiss former butcher shop Bucher used as her studio and an interior from a former psychiatric sanitorium. Also on view will be films documenting her intricate process, and an epic experimental film work from 1972 Bodyshells, Venice Beach, featuring foam-coated performers slowly edging across the beach.

WHERE: Parasol unit, 14 Wharf Rd, Islington, N1 7RW

WHEN: September 18 through December 9.


Chris Burden

Chris Burden, Porsche with Meteorite (2013). ©2018 Chris Burden / licensed by The Chris Burden Estate and Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Courtesy Gagosian.

WHAT: Two monumental sculptural works by the artist who brought us possibly the most Instagrammable installation ever (Urban Light) will be included in “Measured,” Ton Crane Truck, and Porsche with Meteorite.

A technical feat has been undertaken to install the large-scale works. In one gallery, a bright orange, functional, F Ford crane-truck is balanced with a one-ton cast-iron cube, and in another, a yellow Porsche and a meteorite are suspended on either side of a steel beam.

WHERE: Gagosian, 6-24 Britannia Street, Kings Cross, WC1X 9JD

WHEN: September 29 through January 26, 2019.


Tania Bruguera

Tania Bruguera
Photo via:


WHAT: The Cuban activist-artist Tania Bruguera has posted a couple of tantalizing images on Instagram ahead of her Tate Modern Turbine Hall commission, the details of which are closely guarded until the big reveal. She has turned the vast space into a collective response to migrant crisis by covering the floor with black, heat-sensitive material. Visitors will be able to leave their marks if they lie down for long enough. For her Hyundai Commission, the artist has also renamed the Boiler House wing after a local activist, Nicola Bell. The name of the actual work changes every day as the number of migrants, and migrant deaths, rises. 

The artist is familiar with the cavernous space in the former power station. Her work Tatlin’s Whisper #5, 2008, which involves two mounted police officers crowd-controlling visitors is one of the key performance pieces in the Tate’s collection. In 2012, she brought her ongoing project Immigrant Movement International to the gallery. Visitors were required to line up and pass a lie detector test based on questions from the UK immigration form before being granted access to the adjacent Tanks. The commission, which is supported by Hyundai, is organized by Catherine Wood, the Tate’s senior curator of international art (performance), and Isabella Maidment, assistant curator of performance.

WHERE: Tate Modern, Southwark, SE1 9TG

WHEN: October 2 through February 24, 2019.


“Strange Days: Memories of the Future”

John Akomfrah, Vertigo Sea (2015). © Smoking Dogs Films. Courtesy of Lisson Gallery.

John Akomfrah, Vertigo Sea (2015). Copyright, Smoking Dogs Films. Courtesy of Lisson Gallery.


WHAT: The New Museum is bringing to London the pick of the film and video works it has presented in New York. Called “Strange Days: Memories of the Future,” the exhibition is curated by the New Museum’s artistic director, Massimiliano Gioni. He brings John Akomfrah’s Vertigo Sea (2015) to London, which was a hit  in the Venice Biennale that year.

Although shown elsewhere in the UK, it has taken a collaboration between the New Museum and the Vinyl Factory for Akomfrah’s sweeping meditation on slavery, migration and the sea to reach London. The former office building overlooking the Thames, which is now called the Store X, works well as a venue for video work. In previous years, the Hayward’s “The Infinite Mix,” and Lisson’s 50th anniversary spectacular “Everything At Once,” proved that in spades. From the New Museum’s “back catalogue” Gioni’s selection includes: Kahlil Joseph’s Harlem-based Fly Paper (2017); Camille Henrot’s creation story Grosse Fatigue (2013), and Pipilotti Rist’s video and sound installation 4th Floor To Mildness (2016). Gioni told artnet News when the show was first announced that, “there is a play between reportage and more personal and intimate reflections,” adding that many of the works have a “nocturnal” quality.  

WHERE: The Store X, 180 The Strand, WC2R IEA

WHEN: October 2 through December 9.


Mika Rottenberg

Installation view, Mika Rottenberg, Goldsmiths Centre for Contemporary Art. Photo by Andy Keate. Image courtesy of the artist and Goldsmiths CCA.

WHAT: The Argentinean-born, New York-based artist Mika Rottenberg was director Sarah McCrory’s first choice for the inaugural show at Goldsmiths CCA. Rottenberg’s surreal installations and video are a surprisingly good fit in the art college’s new Kunsthalle. The frying pans that hiss when water drops from the ceiling of a water tank turned black-box gallery sum up the dark humor in much of her work.

With an eye that sees the bizarre in the mundane, Rottenberg reveals the hidden, mainly female, labor required to keep the wheels of globalization turning. NoNoseKnows is about sorting pearls on a production line. Kinetic works include the perpetually flicking PonyTail and BallBowlsSoulsHoles featuring a bingo caller’s machine and a scoreboard that turns constantly along with the wall where they are mounted. Rottenberg says her art is about “taking something to an extreme to examine it.” Those extremes link a factory in China to the US-Mexico border wall. In the age of Trump and trade wars, her work is spookily topical.        

WHERE: Goldsmiths Centre for Contemporary Art, New Cross, SE1 9TG

WHEN: September 6 through November 4.


“Space Shifters”

Richard Wilson, 20:50 (1987) installation at “Space Shifters.” Photo by Mark Blower. Copyright the artist, courtesy Hayward Gallery. 2018.


WHAT: The Hayward’s latest off-the-wall show would be worth visiting for the return of Richard Wilson’s sump-oil installation 20:50 alone. Its mirror surface looks as mesmerizing as ever, accompanied by a sculpture made of more conventional reflective surfaces by Jeppe Hein, Anish Kapoor, Alicja Kwade, and Yayoi Kusama, among others.

Works by 20 artists play with perceptions of space. Historic Light and Space pieces infuse the concrete galleries with a sense of southern California through works by De Wain Valentine, Helen Pashgian, and Robert Irwin’ s monumental Untitled (Acrylic Column) (1969–2011). Organized by the Hayward’s senior curator Cliff Lauson, with assistant curator Tarini Malik, and curatorial assistant Thomas Sutton, the exhibition ensures that the gallery’s 50th anniversary year ends on high.

WHERE: Hayward Gallery, South Bank, SE1 8XX

WHEN: September 26 through January 6, 2019.



Early 19th-century Ahu ula (feather cloak) belonging to Liholoho, Kamehameha II. Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, University of Cambridge.

WHAT: This sweeping survey of the art of Australasia, Melanesia, Micronesia, and Polynesia takes Captain James Cook’s voyages of discovering 250 years ago as its starting point but brings the story up to date with contributions from leading contemporary artists from the vast region.

Many long-hidden treasures from Europe’s great ethnographic collections, including feathered sculpture and carved canoes, are juxtaposed with contemporary works that explore the fraught history of European contact. Mata Aho Collective, a group of four Māori female artists, will present Kiko Moana (2017). The blue tarpaulin hanging, which is folded, stitched, and slashed, was last seen at in documenta14 in Kassel. Photographer Fiona Pardington, who is of Māori and Scottish descent, is showing images of life casts of tattooed ancestors collected by a 19th-century French phrenologist. The originals are in the Musée de l’Homme in Paris. The standout contemporary work is a digital mural of Cook’s first encounter with New Zealand’s indigenous population. Lisa Reihana’s Pursuit of Venus [Infected] (2015–17) was a talking point at the 2017 Venice Biennale.

WHERE: Royal Academy of Arts, Piccadilly, W1J OBD

WHEN: September 29 through December 10.

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