We Sent an Illustrator to Frieze New York to Capture All the Action—See Images Here

Susan Coyne made her way through the fair, hobnobbing with visitors, to offer us an illustrator's sense of what the show looks like.

One major benefit of attending Frieze for the second time at the same location is advance knowledge of where all the bathrooms are, a pressing issue I also touched upon in my last piece for Artnet.

While I waited on line, I saw the women just ahead of me wearing fabulous shoes. One, wearing feathery ones, told an enthusiastic bystander who complimented her: “These are by Miu Miu, and you’ve just made my whole day!”

Unlike 2021, when Frieze felt more lethargic than a funeral, people were visibly happy and upbeat. Everyone was chatting amiably. It felt like a college reunion.

I was there to do a “What’s in your bag?” piece, but the fashion at Frieze always demands to be recorded, like the fabulous shoe game at Clearing (New York, Brussels).

Later, I spotted a tote straight from the Venice Biennale, and waved over its owner. “So you just got back from the Biennale?” I asked.

She told me her name is Cherryn, and she worked for a Korean electronics company. “Unfortunately, no. I was all set to go, from Seoul, and then I got sick with Covid a few days before and couldn’t go. My coworker brought this back for me.”

I have a sixth sense that a woman nearby, carrying a massive, shiny black bag, had some interesting stuff inside. I asked her, and she immediately pulled out two giant bars of Swedish chocolate. Of course!

“I’ve got Swedish chocolate, deodorant, this wellness throat spray, and this first-aid kit. It’s rainbow-colored! It’s actually super cute.”

She told me her name was Kendall. It was a very Mary Poppins moment.

I spotted this person on their way into Frieze, but their tickets were scanned before I can pull them aside to talk. Luckily, I run into them an hour later. 

“My name is Di Mondo. I’m a creative person”—clearly—“but I’m not technically an artist. I don’t sell art.” He works for his boyfriend’s company doing e-commerce.

“The bag is Eric Javits, and the hat, too. I have my wallet, earphones, keys, perfume and chapstick. My perfume is Kilian’s, ‘Love, Don’t Be Shy.’” He sprayed a little on my wrist. 

Of his outfit: “I thought it was happy! You know, it’s spring, it’s colorful. It has some Frank Stella vibe. I get a bunch of outfits that I like [every year before Frieze] and then I see what works.”

I couldn’t help spotting a fabulous SpongeBob bag worn by Harlem-born Venus X, who told me she was a “DJ by trade, and also a musician.”

“The only interesting thing I have here is my pen case.” 

I could not believe she was carrying a Doraemon case—a character popular in Japan but virtually unknown here. 

“I was a stationery kid and collected a lot of fun stuff when I was growing up. This is one of the characters I was into.”

Of her bag: “I love Spongebob. That’s why I got the bag.” It’s by Commes des Garçons. “They took bedsheets, and turned them into plastic bags. They’re all one-of-a-kind.”

Just before Frieze closed for the Preview Day, I stop Jordan Pieper, who works at Gallery Sterling Boos (Delancey and Greene), and asked what’s in his bag.

He pulled out a Japanese zip-up pouch. I resisted the urge to tell him I once lived in the zipper-making capital of the world, Kurobe city, YKK’s homebase in Japan. (It is difficult to resist this).

Then he pulled out an embroidered pouch from Mexico. “What’s it filled with? Pesos. This is from Zonamaco, from February. You can tell how often I clean out my bags.”

On Friday, I finally made it to the Gagosian vending machine. On the side was written:

I think it couldn’t possibly be related to the song my family used to sing, about going to “the funny farm,” but then I overheard a guest tell the attendant: “I think these are lyrics from a song!” I pulled her aside to ask her name—Marcia Silva—and more about the song, and she sang the one I was thinking of, by Napoleon XIV, from 1966.

Thus closes my time at another great, mad year at Frieze New York.


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