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News roundup: Art fairs launched, refreshed and hit by controversy

March 1, 2018
A visitor browses art works at Frieze London. The company is set to launch a show in Los Angeles next year. The big news this month has been the much gossiped about announcement that Frieze will be opening a show in Los Angeles, U.S. next year. Frieze runs successful art fairs in London and New York, but there is skepticism about whether they will find similar appetites on the west coast for a new addition. The problem, according to the Los Angeles Times’ Carolina Miranda, is that the city’s two established shows: the L.A. Art Show and Art Los Angeles Contemporary already satisfy demand. 
 
Another London/New York staple that extended its reach this month was the 1-54 Contemporary Art Fair, which opened its first African incarnation in Marrakech, Morocco. Originally planned to coincide with the city’s biennale, the show found itself filling a breach in Africa’s art market as the Marrakech Biennale was cancelled due to financial deficits. Response to the fair was mixed, according to the Art Newspaper; some commentators saw it as a step in the right direction for Africa’s art market while others said a commercial art fair couldn’t step into the biennale’s shoes. 
 
New director Jagdip Jagpal injected a breath of fresh air into the India Art Fair in Delhi on its 10th anniversary. In her Financial Times article, Rachel Spence celebrated Jagdip’s focus on south Asian art and her significant transformation of the fair’s layout. There’s positivity in the south Asian market, which grew 13 percent last year and, Rachel notes, the bulk of sales at the show were to south Asian collectors. 
 
Elsewhere in Asia, November’s Shanghai Biennale announced its theme would be “Proregress – Art in an Age of Historical Ambivalence”. According to show director Cuauhtémoc Medina, Proregress is the culmination of a “constant combination of gain and loss, openness and fear, acceleration and reaction.” He explained that he wanted the initially nonsensical word to cause visitors to stop and think about art and contemporary culture. 
 
Over in Europe, the Arco contemporary art fair in Madrid, Spain was in the news  because of claims of political censorship. The art work in question, Santiago Sierra’s “Political Prisoners in Contemporary Spain”, was removed after the exhibition center’s operator Ifema said that the controversy it prompted was hurting the visibility of other art on show. Santiago’s piece includes pixilated photographs of political figures involved in Catalonia’s failed bid for independence in October last year. 
 
 
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