Frieze New York did more than put people in front of art, together, after we all spent 14 months at home. The acclaimed fair and its ancillary events allowed people to find inspiration, contribute to conversations and recreate a sense of community for those eager to gather safely. At the forefront, CultureWorks, the union of the collaborative creative space NeueHouse and future-forward photo museum Fotografiska, championed the return to in-person events with powerful talks, riveting performances and private dinners that proved New York’s broader curatorial scene no longer remains dormant.
As Fotografiska welcomed guests to the opening off its glossy, often candy-colored Miles Aldridge exhibition, it also hosted a standout talk by author and Gagosian director Antwaun Sargent, as well as a dinner to celebrate the Tom of Finland Foundation and its “Darkroom” presentation. Fotografiska also activated its hidden cocktail-haven, Chapel Bar, and glowing fine-dining restaurant, Verōnika. Programming at NeueHouse started with many people’s first in-person panel discussion in more than a year, which was delivered by members of the Wide Awakes. The change-making, open-source network brought such gravity to their talk, it empowered guests, who were timid at first to be in a room with so many others (even though we all wore masks).
Chief Brand Officer of NeueHouse and Fotografiska, Jon Goss tells us that this thoughtful and joyous conversation—between Hank Willis Thomas, Larry Ossei-Mensah, Tracey Ryans and Tanya Selvaratnam—came to be a part of their Frieze roster because “art and activism have always been a pillar of NeueHouse’s cultural programming DNA. Cognizant of the importance of art in advancing social causes and our relationship with some of the founders of the Wide Awakes, we wanted to support their mission to ‘create a new culture in pursuit of liberation.'” In collaboration with the Wide Awakes, NeueHouse will continue to produce a series of roundtable discussions “featuring prominent creatives to explore current cultural, political and societal topics and themes” which they’ll then share through NeueJournal.
“This first talk in our new Madison Square Gallery space—with Hank, Larry, Tanya and Tracey—was a free-flowing and empowering conversation to witness in non-digital form, and truly lived up to the moment,” Goss says. It’s a sentiment with which we concur. He adds, “NeueHouse spaces in LA and NYC will also be the home for the Wide Awakes to gather, connect and host just like the other creative leaders that make up our community.”
“Catalyzed by Frieze’s bold decision to bring the fair back this week,” Goss continues, “we felt compelled to launch the Wide Awakes collab at a time when the arts are going to be more pivotal than ever in shifting narratives around important issues—issues that our members, community and the Frieze audience care deeply about.” Art, of course, has always been fundamental to the NeueHouse mission.
Another revelatory programming moment came on behalf of Aldridge himself. “We spoke to Miles about what inspired him,” Goss says. “The serendipitous outcome was the Philip Glass Ensemble’s readiness to perform for the first time since 2019 and for the first time in-the-round in 20 years.” Aldridge listens to Glass‘ music for inspiration in his creative process. Thus, it was even more powerful when Glass himself attended the performance at NeueHouse.
“We set up CultureWorks with the vision of building a platform for culture brands to connect art-curious audiences,” Goss says. “Frieze was our perfect opportunity to demonstrate what NeueHouse and Fotografiska individually and collectively can bring to shaping the future of how we gather, work, connect and experience the arts. This week was a microcosm of how NeueHouse and Fotografiska can be culture hubs for New Yorkers to get back to what they love doing together as a connected community. And it was just the beginning.” In fact, it was a refreshing reopening for a city of individuals deeply connected with the arts.
Hero image courtesy of Sansho Scott