October sees the art world descend upon London for Frieze Art Fair and a calendar packed with satellite fairs, auctions, exhibitions, events and the chicest of chic parties.
The city’s galleries and institutions take the opportunity to showcase their programme highlights, presenting work by top contemporary and historical artists. This year in response to local and global concerns around identity, equality and freedom, there is a critical mass of work on show in London presenting an urgent celebration of diversity and a desperate preservation of queer culture. Gemma Rolls-Bentley provides a rundown of what not to miss this Frieze week!
4 & 6 October, Hoi Polloi, London
Founded by Leanne Elliott Young and the late Richard Nicoll, COMMUNE is a creative platform that blurs the parameters of art, fashion and dance via #COMMUNEPRESENTS, a series of residencies and events spotlighting and showcasing an “array of inspirations, love affairs, dialogues, rumors and catalytic liaisons that have stimulated change”. For London Frieze week 2017, #COMMUNEEAST artists take residency at the Ace Hotel’s Hoi Polloi to present two explosive nights of interventions, cocktails, performance and sensational dancing under the tagline “Come watch, taste, dance, get wet and be #commune-al”.
4TH OCTOBER #COMMUNEPRESENTS Lineal liminal: Dominic Myatt X James Cooper X James Massiah
6TH OCTOBER #COMMUNEPRESENTS (A) Specific resting place of explosion; please remove your wet shoes: Holly Blakey X Caitlin Price
RSVP: Mail@communeeast.tv to book seats and booths from 9.45pm on either night
Catherine Opie: Portraits and Landscapes
3 October – 18 November, Thomas Dane Gallery, London
American photographer Catherine Opie, shot to prominence in the mid 1990s with a spectacular sequence of studio portraits of her close friends from within the west coast leather community. Honouring her subjects through portraiture, Opie created a sequence of elegant and vivid images that bestow a regal dignity upon her sitters: transvestites, female-to-male transsexuals, drag queens, body manipulators and others who pioneer the body as a site of sexual and aesthetic experimentation. For her first exhibition at Thomas Dane Gallery, Opie will present new studio portraits of fellow artists, friends and creative luminaries including David Hockney, Rick Owens and Isaac Julien, and revisits a subject which has recurred throughout her practice – the self-portrait – with a new work taken in London this year.
Light after Dark
Until Sunday 29 October, Sutton House, London
Light after Dark is an exhibition celebrating the past, present and future of queer nightlife in London. Situated at Sutton House, which was saved from housing developers and established as a community centre by local campaigners in 1987, the exhibition responds to a similar situation being faced today by the queer community, as cultural venues and safe spaces are being closed around us. The exhibition is part of Never Gonna Dance Again, a season at Sutton House dedicated to celebrating London’s queer club scene and the importance of the cultural spaces already lost and still facing closure.
Hannah Quinlan & Rosie Hastings: We Lost Them At Midnight
Until 12 November, Arcadia Missa, London
Lesbionic dream duo Hannah Quinlan and Rosie Hastings work together to tirelessly preserve queer culture, documenting a rapidly shrinking scene that offers sanctuary to the community, and imagining new, utopian, radical and critical environments that nurture individuality and resist the cruel destructive impact of austerity and gentrification. For their exhibition at Arcadia Missa, the artists consider queer sociality as a mode of resistance set against an increasingly barren cultural landscape. The sparse gallery reflects the closure of queer venues, the emptying and buying out of London’s community spaces. “We Lost Them At Midnight’ presents a set against which stories and queer mythologies may be enacted.
Putti’s Pudding, Cookie Mueller & Vittorio Scarpati
Until 12 November, Studio Voltaire, London
‘Putti’s Pudding’ is a book that pairs writing by American writer and actor Cookie Mueller, with drawings by her husband, Italian artist Vittorio Scarpati, it was published in 1989, the same year both died from complications related to AIDS. Mueller first came to prominence for her ribald appearances in the early works of provocative filmmaker John Waters, who memorably described Mueller as “a writer, a mother, an outlaw, an actress, a fashion designer, a go–go dancer, a witch–doctor, an art–hag and above all, a goddess.” The couple were photographed by Nan Goldin who described her compulsion to photograph friends as a way to safeguard or honour them at a time when AIDS was not only untreatable, but patients were actively discriminated against by the government, health commissioners and the press. This presentation of Putti’s Pudding expands the conversation about the AIDS crisis through a public programme of talks, readings, performance and a screening programme featuring United in Anger: A History of ACT UP (2012) and the John Waters movies that Mueller starred in.
We spoke with John Waters in our latest issue, which you can download here.