Frieze London 2021
For it’s third Biennial in as many years, SHANZHAI BIENNIAL will attempt to sell a £32,000,000 estate at Frieze Art Fair, London and Project Native Informant London, for which they stand to make a healthy commission.
Entitled SHANZHAI BIENNIAL N°3: 100 HAMILTON TERRACE, the work consists of twin retail installations running concurrently at Frieze and the gallery Project Native Informant. Featuring a high-gloss advertising campaign in stills and video dispersed in a half dozen prominent press outlets but in the end culminating less in these traces than in the potential commercial transaction they seek to perform.
Transforming both their gallery and their prominently placed booth at Frieze into fully functioning real estate boutiques, SB has partnered with high-end brokerage Aston Chase in the crafting of a advertising strategy which unlocks the potential of Frieze as a lifestyle brand with a rarified demographic penetration uncannily suited to the London property market.
Taking the iconography and phenomenon of Frieze itself as their starting point, SB responds to an environment of intensely subdivided space, in which a labyrinth of booths recreates in miniature a global landscape of private galleries in an almost platonic representation of the dynamics of culture and commerce.
The fair has coincided with an epoch for the popularity and usefulness of contemporary art — which has itself become indispensable to the industries of property development, place-branding and ‘reurbaniziation’. The magazine from which it sprang also operates as a rentier of cultural space: producing a publication defined as a space for critical discourse; practically supported through the sale of advertisements. Advertisers effectively pay for space for its proximity to critique.
With it’s crypto-corporate identity evoking limited ethical liability SHANZHAI BIENNIAL decants the space afforded critique as a mediator of culture and commerce by directly profiting not only from the sale but also the production of its work.
With 100 HAMILTON TERRACE, SHANZHAI BIENNIAL squarely leaves the round of artists working within the framework of corporate aesthetics and positions itself as a commercial entity exploiting the art world in a mutually beneficial exchange of services. In the end the biggest winner is the public.