Alice Jones' Frieze Diary: REM singer can't forget his lines at the Serpentine's memory mash-up


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The Independent Culture

Michael Stipe will perform at the Serpentine tonight as part of the gallery's Memory Marathon. The former REM frontman will not be singing but reading “a humorous essay on memory in front of a looped video piece”.

Stipe, who studied art before becoming a rockstar, has been focusing on a new direction since REM split a year ago. “I wake up in the morning thinking of sculpture not lyrics,” he told the Wall St Journal in the summer. “Lyrics are too hard.” The 10-minute piece was commissioned for the event and Stipe will take to the stage in the 8-11pm slot, between Generation X author Douglas Coupland's musings about how he “misses his pre-internet brain” and a new film by David Lynch.

This year's marathon is dedicated to the late historian Eric Hobsbawm, who was a consultant on the event and had been due to appear. One of his last contributions, I'm told, was to give the Serpentine a Post-it note on which he had written: “I belong to a profession whose business it is to protest against forgetting – but which also knows that memory is complex and sometimes dangerous.” The co-director of the gallery, Hans-Ulrich Obrist, has had the Post-it framed and it will take pride of place during the weekend's events.

Breast-feeders beat Frieze art-fair veterans to the door

The Zhukovas and Gagosians of the art world pride themselves on getting into Frieze before the hoi polloi. So they'll be miffed that they were beaten to the tent this year by a small army of breast-feeding women. The new mothers were on site on Tuesday night for a photo shoot with DIS.

The online magazine shot tableaux around the fair as part of Frieze Projects before it opened to the VVIPs on Wednesday morning. Twenty breast-feeding women, a series of blonde “clones” and hip-hop dancers were among the “models” draping themselves around the priceless artworks; the photos are online now.

Frieze Projects continues today with a lunch for art-world bigwigs cooked by Simon Rogan of L'Enclume. It's invitation- only but all are welcome to watch the party tuck into a vermin feast: Canada goose, pike, Japanese knotweed and “bitter hairy cress” are all on the menu, I'm told.

A tunnel of art proves an arresting site once the pictures are hung

Dealer Steve Lazarides is back in the Old Vic Tunnels for a third year with his “alternative to flogging art out of a tent”, a free show of street-art themed around Bedlam. Subversive as ever, it has already found itself on the wrong side of the law. The New York artist Dan Witz “nearly got arrested within five minutes of arriving in town”, Lazarides tells me. The artist was picked up by police as he tried to install a painting behind a grill on Waterloo Bridge but was let off. As for putting on a show in a damp tunnel, it's a fine art. “After three years down here, we know where the drips are”, says Lazarides. “You just don't put the art in those corners.” A Carmody Groarke tent it ain't.

Tate could profit from Hirst's helping hand

More money than sense? Then why stop at buying art in Frieze week? Damien Hirst launched a new range of “Spin rugs” on Tuesday. The limited-edition, 100% lambswool carpets are based on his spin paintings and start at £25,000. At Frieze, Tate Etc. magazine is flogging, umm, bricks for the Hirstly sum of £1,450 on its stand. Each block, designed by Herzog & de Meuron in the shape of the new extension, “will support the campaign to transform Tate Modern and redefine the art museum for the 21st century”, apparently.