The Last Picture

The Last Picture

Frieze takes a drive through Los Angeles with artist Sharif Farrag

by Stefano Tonchi
Photography by Jeff Vespa

The renowned international art fair Frieze has its roots in the contemporary art magazine of the same name founded in 1991 by Amanda Sharp and Matthew Slotover. The pair went on to launch the groundbreaking art fair in London in 2003, capturing the attention of an international audience that continues to this day, with outposts in New York and recently in Seoul. The first edition of Frieze Los Angeles took place in February 2019, reflecting the increased attention and appreciation shown for art on the West Coast and following the acquisition of the brand by the L.A. talent agency WME. For each edition, the Fair presents an ambitious artist-driven program of events and talks and produces site-specific installations and performances.

Returning in 2024 to the Santa Monica Airport (February 29 to March 3), Frieze Projects has invited for the second consecutive year the nonprofit Art Production Fund to curate “Set Seen,” a free public exhibition of interactive works by mostly Los Angeles artists including Sharif Farrag, Derek Fordjour, Cynthia Talmadge, Ryan Flores and Pippa Garner. This expansive exhibition through the airport grounds presents artist projects in dialogue with the rich history of set design in L.A. and offers onsite performances that speak about local constructed environments such as highways and cars.

As an Angeleno, Farrag perceives the relationship with his car as more than a mere tool for transportation: Akin to a secondary home, the car is a reliable friend and a means of survival. For this project, the artist, whom we visited in his studio on the eve of the opening of the fair, has transformed radio-controlled cars into embodiments of human experience, envisioning them as a post-human representation that reflects our societal shift toward unity with technology. Comprised of sculpted terracotta rats fitted atop the chassis of RC cars, Farrag’s Rat Race serves as an allegory for competition and capitalism, symbolizing the relentless pursuit of work, money and survival. During the hours of the Fair, he is inviting VIPs and a group of lucky visitors to join the rat race by experiencing his moving sculptures and race against each other on the airport’s athletic field, with awards for the winners.