Did You Forget How to Behave at an Art Fair? Us Too. Here Are Some Dos and Don’ts for Frieze New York

It's been a while, hasn't it?

Wait, don't leave! Check out these tips and relax (to the degree that you can in a pandemic that has killed 3.2 million people). Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images.
Wait, don't leave! Check out these tips and relax (to the degree that you can in a pandemic that has killed 3.2 million people). Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images.

Art fairs can be stressful—and a little bit awkward—under the best of circumstances. (Current and former bosses, enemies, competitors, crushes… all under the same roof? Whose idea was this??)

Add in a pandemic and a year of relative isolation and you’ve got yourself an especially anxiety-inducing, exciting, weird, and unpredictable event. So if you aren’t feeling completely ready for Frieze New York (which opens to VIPs today at its new home at the Shed, making it the city’s first major art fair since early 2020), it’s OK!

But if you do find yourself in Hudson Yards this week, we have taken the liberty of assembling some handy tips for art-fair reentry etiquette.

Good luck!

The Shed, a cultural center in Hudson Yards. C. Taylor Crothers/Getty Images.

DO: Look at your phone whenever you feel unprepared to talk to other people

DO NOT: Dwell on how frightened you are

DO: Ask your friends if they need help remembering how to tie a tie

DO NOT: Volunteer to tie it for them. Instead, offer a helpful YouTube link!

DO: Remember to social distance

DO NOT: Shout at your colleagues from across a distance too loudly, everyone is still very fragile right now

DO: Make a joke about NFTs, like: “Nice to be looking at all this non-fungible art, am I right?” (Or maybe don’t do this)

DO NOT: Spend too much more time talking about NFTs because everyone will become confused and sad and scared again. (Remember: fragile!)

DO: Ask your favorite dealer how they are doing, and how they’ve been holding up in this difficult time

DO NOT: Hug or kiss them

DO: Tell dealers about your experience visiting their new locations in Aspen, Palm Beach, or the Hamptons

DO NOT: Tell them you haven’t been to their Chelsea location since December 2019

DO: Discuss the weirdness of working from home. (Boundaries—so tough to maintain!)

DO NOT: Tell anyone when you last showered prior to the shower you took to attend Frieze

DO: Tell your professional contacts how much you have enjoyed hearing them on Clubhouse

DO NOT: Reveal that you didn’t recognize them with their mask on just now

DO: Make sure to visit the booths of galleries in cities you’ve been unable to travel to over the past year

DO NOT: Ask Gagosian or David Zwirner if they have any work by Jeff Koons. (Awkward!)

DO: Point out the Shed’s retractable roof. Perfect for fostering air flow!

DO NOT: Tell anyone this is your first time at the Shed, even though it is

DO: Take all this at your own speed and comfort level—it’s a whole new world here

DO NOT: Forget that there is value to seeing art—not to mention other people!—in person (whenever it is you feel ready to do so)


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