August 1 2014

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where there’s smoke, there’s a delinquent art dealer


Daisy Lowe and Will Blondelle are among the people we’ve spotted queuing up for a fag at Norma Jean’s controversial smoking-booths installation, The Straight Story at the Frieze Art Fair. The anonymous artist, whose identity was born on the day Marilyn Monroe died and who’s got a reputation for outrageousness (making cheese from breast milk, for example, and staging orgies), furnished three booths with a single chair, a metal ashtray, and a watercooler, so that fairgoers could pretend to be cubical workers irreverently bucking the smoking ban. It was rumored that the installation, which is part of the Frieze Projects section curated by Neville Wakefield, was going to be censored by city authorities because it violated the ban. But some of London’s heavy-hitting art figures, including the Serpentine’s Julia Peyton-Jones and the Hayward’s Ralph Rugoff, came to Jean’s defense. The work was clearly a big hit with dealers jonesing for a break from the bleak task of trying to sell art. But after a while, we noticed that more than a few truly irreverent attendees were smoking away from the booths. Said one collector as she hid her Dunhill behind her back, “The line is too long, and I need a nicotine hit more than I need to be part of art.”


Photo: Dave M. Benett/Getty Images


Dept. of CultureSocial Intelligence