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Jordan Wolfsan, Johan Koenig. Photo: Linda Nylind / Frieze Art Fair

The highlight of London’s art calendar: Frieze Art Fair 0

Juste Kostikovaite

October is the month to be in London. Frieze Art Fair attracts not only collectors and galleries, but is also a catalyst for the huge amount of happenings, openings, screenings, performances and other events going on around the city. Everything seems to be happening at the same time, as if all of the events are trying to grab a piece of the same crowd. The central axis for all of these events, of course, is Frieze Art Fair, with the charm of Regent’s Park and its bright lights and white booths.

Christian Jankowski. The Finest Art on Water. 2011
Photo: Frieze Art Fair 

Would you swap your credit card for a piece by Michael Landy, or would you prefer a 65 million euro yacht?

After a couple of hours of strolling through the booths in Frieze, one gets tired. Professionals select the artists whom they have been following and then quickly run to their particular booths. But Frieze is not just an event for collectors or other professionals – it's also a fascinating place for ever-curious visitors. At each fair, there are always a few artworks that really draw the crowds. This year, one of those was Michael Landy's interactive installation,“Credit Card Destroying Machine”. In 2010, “Credit Card Destroying Machine” was commissioned by Louis Vuitton (LV). The work is a moving sculpture, made from vintage objects – such as old scissors, rusty saws, body parts of dolls – all of which move and make noises when activated. When connected to electricity, the sculpture produces drawings. After a drawing is made, the animated sculpture is “fed” the “customer’s” credit card; it then breaks the card into little pieces, forming a pile on the ground.

Michael Landy. Thomas Dane Gallery. 2011
Photo: Linda Nylind / Frieze Art Fair

At first glance, this work is a rather simple example of institutional critique. It raises many questions which are not quite new, but are, nevertheless, still relevant. Firstly, the work plays with the opulent, luxury – and consumerist – image of the LV brand. What kind of powers are at play that one is willing to give out his/her money in order to get a branded, ugly handbag from LV? Secondly, the work laughs at the incredible prices that circulate at auctions and art fairs. Thirdly, it points to the factory-like production mode of the YBA (Young British Artists) group, such as Damien Hirst, a well known artist-entrepreneur who has such a growing demand for his artworks that he must literally create factories to produce them. >>