An Expert’s Guide to Art in London Now
The annual Frieze fair has just ended, but edgy art initiatives are keeping the city’s creative energy buzzing. One of London’s leading curators tells us what not to miss.
“The secret and the charm of London’s art scene is that it always reinvents itself—it doesn’t stay the same,” says Fatos Ustek. The same could be said of Ustek, a Turkey–born curator whose projects routinely become the talk of the London art scene. That’s particularly true during Frieze, the annual art fair running October 4–7 this year in Regent’s Park. This year, Ustek is part of the panel behind “Social Work,” a new, highly anticipated section celebrating female artists who challenged the male-dominated status quo of the 1980s. It promises to be thought-provoking and iconoclastic—Ustek trademarks.
Ustek made a name for herself in London for organizing the Institute of Contemporary Art’s Fig-2 program in 2015, which presented 50 projects in 50 weeks. She followed that up with Art Night 2017, with works popping up across the East End in the wee hours. This spring, she became the director and chief curator of David Roberts Art Foundation (DRAF), a London-based nonprofit focused on activating contemporary art collaborations across the United Kingdom.
With more than 160 galleries participating in this year’s edition of Frieze, plus a slew of parallel art shows, Ustek knows art lovers have a lot to take in. “London doesn’t have a biennial, but it has Frieze. Every year for one week, you see these incredible international audiences,” she says. “It’s not only about the fair—it’s about everything around it, all in harmonious collaboration.” Case in point: Do Ho Suh’s “Bridging Home,” a replica of the traditional Korean house where the artist was raised, now installed on a footbridge in the City of London. Ustek commissioned the work in partnership with Art Night and Sculpture in the City. She is also curating DRAF’s annual Evening of Performances on October 2, featuring Turner Prize–winning artist and musician Martin Creed and others at the historic O2 Forum Kentish Town.
Here, Ustek shares her hit list for this year’s Frieze Week.