Laying on the floor, staring up at a James Turrell light installation, I fantasized about being beamed into the glowing abyss. As the shades of blue faded into purple and back again, space and time became fluid ideas, and random questions filled my brain. Should I be concerned that my head was laying on a pillow that cradled the heads of countless others before mine? Why do I feel like I’m floating in a saltwater pool? How long is too long to be looking up at the ceiling? Was someone waiting impatiently for me to get up and move so they can also feel like they’re cradled in a sci-fi womb? All important queries to consider when you want to be a courteous guest at Frieze Los Angeles.
It’s not my first time at the globe-spanning art fair — I’ve been to the one in New York City before. But this was the first time I got to experience it in a city where recreational cannabis was legal. Hey, if artists use it for inspiration, I might as well see how my viewing experience could be enhanced, especially since I’m not really drinking alcohol. I took a few hits of Kurvana’s Key Lime cartridge before arriving at the fair and by the time I wandered into the main tent, I felt it wash over me, like a tingly buzz. The potent strain is meant to be uplifting and energizing, which was especially helpful in sidestepping the crowd as I made my way through the art installations.
Going to Frieze sober and going to Frieze high are two very different experiences, with the latter being far more entertaining. Your brain feels like the sparkly, squidgy slime you’d find in #oddlysatisfying Instagram posts and you wind up lingering a beat too long at certain art pieces. The colors of Anish Kapoor’s Glisten glowed more vibrantly — as the blue faded into the gold in the circular disc, I dreamed of watching the sun set on a remote alien beach.
Moving onwards, I wandered towards Rob Pruitt’s gleaming gold and red chair sculptures which could easily be mistaken for delicious candy wrappers. Jordan Casteel’s figurative paintings reminded me of my childhood home with her depiction of subway riders, lost in their thoughts, and for a moment homesickness hit me. Who knew you could miss being squashed into the L train? With that sobering thought, it was time to head over to Ryan Gander’s piece. Called “A Moving Object or Solid Ideas”, the sculpture consists of a warped blue reflective surface that distorts your image as you approached it. Imagine a fun house mirror, except this one cost upwards of tens of thousands of dollars and could cause nausea if you make any sudden moves. 15 seconds of Instagram video later, I was ready to get some fresh air.
February in New York City is a miserable time of year but February in a fake New York City backdrop located in a Los Angeles movie studio backlot is heavenly. The weather is perfect, the streets don’t smell, and you can sit on a curb or a stoop to take in some more art from the likes of Tania Cadiani, Barbara Casten, and more without worrying if a stray pigeon might cross your path. While there I wandered by Gary Simmons’ wheat paste work. There were nods to weed culture, like a giant wall emblazoned with the words Phillie Blunt Land surrounded by cannabis leaves. The backdrop lent itself to plenty of guests posing in front of it and even more Frieze guards begging said guests not to get too close. It also served as a great place to park myself when the munchies hit full force and eat an adobada taco from Tacos 1986.
Turned out the taco was more of an amuse bouche than an actual meal so I left Frieze and headed over to a nearby Umami Burger for the main course. A vegan milkshake (because, I’m Asian and therefore mildly lactose intolerant) combined with a truffle burger and deep-friend cauliflower bites were exactly what I needed to end an art-filled day and enjoy the last bits of my high. And yes, I plan on repeating this entire experience in 2021 (tacos, burger and a sativa-dominant high). See you next year Frieze!