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Nancy Holt, Western Graveyards, 1968Nancy Holt, Western Graveyards, 1968. Installation view from Haunch of Venison, London, 2012

An All-Female Curation of Frieze New York by Olympia Scarry

The formidable Swiss artist and curator discusses her highlights from the fair

Lead ImageNancy Holt, Western Graveyards, 1968Nancy Holt, Western Graveyards, 1968. Installation view from Haunch of Venison, London, 2012

This year marks the fifth anniversary of Frieze New York, the stateside instalment of Frieze's multi-media celebration of art, offering a showcase comprising 200 galleries from 31 countries worldwide. Encouragingly, the line-up champions more women artists than ever before – so, who better to give us a guided tour than Olympia Scarry? The Swiss artist and muse trained in sculpture at Matthew Barney's New York studio, who is now curator and co-founder of not-for-profit, site-specific exhibition Elevation1049, where she works with Neville Wakefield and Maja Hoffman. An artist herself, Scarry has selected other eight female artists who inspire her own practice, or with whom she forms a dialogue. Here she presents her highlights from this year's fair.

Nancy Holt, Western Graveyards, 1968 (above)
“Nancy Holt’s Western Graveyards is an anthropological inventory of 60 photos she took of burial grounds in Virginia City, Nevada and Lone Pine, California. The work was created in 1968 during her formative and revelatory first trip west with Robert Smithson and Michael Heizer, at a seminal moment for the development of Land and Conceptual Art in the US, and it reflects her ongoing interest in human interventions in the landscape. These images of burial grounds bring back to mind the first pages of Karl Ove Knaussgard’s My Struggle, in which he discusses human nature’s inexplicable tendency to hide death and to lower it into the ground. “A town that does not keep its dead out of sight, that leaves people where they died, on highways and byways, in parks and parking lots, is not a town but a hell…”

Anne Collier, Woman With a Camera, 2015
"Anne’s work is faceted like a prism. A woman takes a photo of a woman taking a photo of a woman taking a photo of the photo of the woman taking a photo by the woman who takes the photo."

Pamela Rosenkranz, Firm Being (Solar Beige), 2009
“I’ve been following Pamela Rosenkranz’s work since her first show in Venice, at the Swiss Institute (where she actually showed these rubber-filled bottles too), all the way through to the Venice Biennale representing Switzerland this past year. I was fortunate to work with her when she took part in our project Elevation1049, where she also worked with this skin-toned rubber. These bottles make me think of displaced utopias and the commodification of water, and its traces in transport. It's a subject that interests me, with water being our next oil, as we can already see in California.”

Servane Mary, Untitled (Woman and child on a Horse), 2015
“Servane Mary’s found photograph of a woman from the mid-west on a horse turns sculptural by sheer rotation of the acetate, making me think about photography as form. Servane is an artist working not only with material, but with her voice, too, as part of the sound group Les Cornichons.” 

Roni Horn, Untitled ("Here I feel movement without definition, without edges. The stones go by like the hours"), 2016
“Roni Horn’s glass works resonate with me in that their sheer weight reflects the unfathomable concept of water and of sky, and its mistaken notion of weightlessness. Her work is equally powerful as it is romantic, as she is.”

Barbara Bloom, Lolita Carpet, 1999
"I wasn't familiar with Bloom's work, but her depiction of the Lolita book cover brought to mind a book I read of collected stories by The Olympia Press; a revolutionary Paris-based small publishing house which was known for printing books "not to be sold in the USA & UK" due to their erotic and avant-garde literary fiction. The first books they published were the first editions of Nabokov's Lolita, William S Burroughs' Naked Lunch, Henry Miller's The Rosy Crucifixion and Georges Bataille's The Story of O."

Sarah Morris, Dr Caligari, 2016
“Sarah’s Dr. Caligari wall piece feels like a turn in a new direction with her work, where the brain-mapping is in motion; its grids and precision are elemental, yet in movement as if recordings of sound bites, potential conversations being transcribed in her electrifying colours. The work takes its name from the influential 1920s German Expressionist silent film, The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, where authority is deeply questioned and rendered graphically as twisted." 

Isa Genzken, Monterosso, 1990
“I recently met Isa Genzken in Berlin, and I find her practice a constant inspiration through form and material and attitude. Isa’s cement sculpture, I believe, is an unrealised proposal for a large-scale monumental sculpture. Unrealised projects are the ones I’m more interested in."

Frieze New York is on display at Randall's Island Park, New York until May 8th, 2016.