Live art is all over the place at Frieze, and while that sounds like a recipe for extreme pain (who needs more distraction at an art fair), the quality has actually been really strong: Franz Erhard Walther works are being performed in one corner, a group of 10 people are modeling pink James Lee Byars hats, Nick Mauss is staging a ballet, and last night, near closing time, an 11-piece band was playing rollicking show tunes, drawing a huge crowd, and earning roaring applause. What in the world?
The man behind the concert is artist Jonathan Berger, who is staging his show “On Creating Reality, by Andy Kaufman,” which is a research-intensive look at the life and art of the late, great, outrageously free-thinking comic, as part of Frieze’s Projects initiative. (New Yorkers may recall the version of the exhibition that appeared at Maccarone gallery last year.) The music, put together by Berger and conductor Gregg Sutton, is a reconstruction of the never-recorded material that Kaufman had performed at his legendary 1979 show at Carnegie Hall, which famously included a dessert of milk and cookies for every audience member. (No sign of those here, though there are great chocolate-chip cookies at the nearby outpost of Gail’s Kitchen.)
Ephemera from Kaufman’s life is on view in a side gallery, along with a round table, where people who knew the comedian will be on hand throughout the fair to discuss him. The band plays every evening at 6:30 p.m.