Frieze New York 2016 Market News

Mimes Gone Wild! Anthea Hamilton Stages Silent Performance at Frieze

Anthea Hamilton Kar-A-Sutra (After Mario Bellini) KATHERINE MCMAHON.

Anthea Hamilton’s Kar-a-Sutra (After Mario Bellini).


Today Frieze New York opened to invited guests, and one of the harder-to-miss pieces inside its big tent on Randall’s Island was Kar-A-Sutra (After Mario Bellini) by Anthea Hamilton, a performance piece specially commissioned by the fair that lets a co-ed group of beatnik-looking mimes play inside of the prototype for a large bright-green “utopian vehicle” designed by the Italian architect and designer Mario Bellini.

The vehicle almost looks like one of those duck boats that you can ride in American resort towns. The mimes were using the prop to it’s full effect in an attempt to demonstrate all of the ways in which it could be utilized: they fished, they loaded cargo, they relaxed, they ate apples. They climbed on support beams. The vehicle was on small wheels, so it could be pushed around the space it occupied. They did that, too. The mimes radiated a kind of look-book ’50s bohemian elegance that has been rehashed in so many commercial campaigns over the decades. They were in a constant state of posing.

This was easily the most amount of time I’ve spent around mimes within American borders. Maybe some of the European visitors were able to gloss over the piece—they are probably more used to this kind of thing. Many photos were taken. A middle-aged woman in an aquamarine sweater tried talking to the mimes as if they were the guards at Buckingham Palace. Somehow, I didn’t see even one single “mime selfie” get taken by a fairgoer. I couldn’t tell you why, but that didn’t make me feel good. To me, the “mime selfie” is much more monumental than your regular old “art selfie.” When asked for a comment, the actors had nothing to say on the record. They’re mimes!

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