The online viewing room for Frieze New York 2020 is accessible to the public now through May 15. With the physical fair canceled due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the art fair launched a comprehensive digital offering complete with special programming, partnerships, and a robust non-profit section bolstered by artist and gallery interest in selling works to benefit various organizations fighting the effects of the current health crisis.
Whitewall checked in with Loring Randolph, Director of Frieze New York, to see how best to navigate the platform.
WHITEWALL: Frieze had already been planning to launch an online viewing room platform before the fair’s physical event was canceled, right?
LORING RANDOLPH: Yes, it had been in the works for quite some time, but, of course, we had to change the way we were thinking about it after the cancellation of Frieze New York was confirmed.
WW: What did that change look like?
LR: It was supposed to be additive, where galleries would be able to show what they had in their private spaces—like other inventory that they would have wanted to show but didn’t due to size constraints, curatorial decisions, or whatever else.
Once it became apparent that we were going to have to cancel, the galleries lead this conversation as they would want to shift their thinking about how they would use a platform like this, with no ability to show physically.
What we had to do was then ask, how are we organizing the platform? Are we going to do it by fair section? And in the end, that’s what we did. It’s pretty comprehensive in terms of being able to navigate it by section and special programming.
WW: Can you tell us about some of the special programming, like “Acute Art” curated by Daniel Birnbaum?
LR: With “Acute Art,” we didn’t have the technology or the time to embed VR into our system. So, Daniel Birnbaum said one way we can make VR more accessible is if he filmed himself going through the virtual work as the user, and then we post the video. I thought that was a great idea and it’s really quite fun to watch.
WW: And while Frieze has always had a non-profit section, there’s an additional room to benefit organizations fighting the effects of COVID-19. Can you tell us about how that came together?
LR: I don’t think anybody can just go ahead with their plans in this moment without finding some way of being socially responsible. I had noticed the galleries were posting collaborations or works where the proceeds of the sale were going to benefit causes that were combating the effects of COVID-19. So, we created a room where all of those works would be together in one place.
We’ve also talked with all of our food and beverage partners, and on Frieze.com, you can see how to support all the restaurants who normally show on Randall’s Island with us. They are doing amazing things, as well, to help not only the restaurant staff who are all suffering in this moment, but they are doing food deliveries to hospitals, too.