Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall can fit quite a few people, especially when the exhibition on view is spare, installed mostly on the ceiling, and mainly consists of sound. And so it was at the Monday night opening of Philippe Parreno’s Anywhen during Frieze Week, in which, on one side of the massive hangar, a grid of speakers aligned in rows and suspended from the ceiling would rise and drop in unison while emitting gloomy melodies. Then, on the other side, there was a big device that looked like it had come from a sci-fi movie set, and it too emitted ambient sounds, while also occasionally blinding this top tier of Frieze attendees with bright flashes of light.
There were also those party-toy inflatable fish floating just above the crowds, the ones seemingly made of tinfoil. Every now and then, they would come within striking distance, and a party attendee would bat it about.
“Are they supposed to . . . do that?” asked a young artist find of mine, who is based in London but always seems to be at the restaurants I frequent in New York.
It was unclear, but at any rate, no one stopped them, and people were much too sucked in by Parreno’s lights and music to really notice anyway. When the space-station cube lit up, it quite clearly illuminated the attendees. There were the directors of two other fairs—Marc Spiegler of Art Basel, and Benjamin Genocchio, of New York’s Armory Show—but, to our eyes, none of the directors of Frieze. A few artists, too, had come to check out the spectacle of sound: Anish Kapoor, in a comfy-looking grey cardigan, lovingly patched up; Ryan Gander, back in his hometown after gently ribbing Manhattanites with his show at Lisson in Chelsea; and Isaac Julien, who could be seen hanging with Swiss Institute Director Simon Castets.
Fun times! At least someone was legitimately working—Gabby Palmieri, a chairman of contemporary art at Sotheby’s, was on the phone yelling, “I can send you a picture of the work from London,” presumably prepping for the postwar and contemporary evening sale here on Friday by buttering up a client.
Toward the end of the opening, the bars were still serving, but people seemed to be making their way out. My artist friend, upon looking at the suspended speakers, said that the music sounded like the soundtrack from Jaws.
“I wonder why there aren’t more flying fish,” she added.