Issue 219
May 2021

“Sometimes, things have to fall apart in order to build up and become stronger. Sometimes, you have to get cut in order to heal.” – Raúl de Nieves 

In the May issue of frieze, Evan Moffitt profiles artist, performer and musician Raúl de Nieves, whose survey at the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston opens in August. Ahead of a major exhibition of his work at London’s Serpentine Galleries, photographer James Barnor speaks with writer Afua Hirsch. And Zanele Muholi answer our questionnaire. 

Profile: Evan Moffitt on Raúl de Nieves 

“When I first met Raúl De Nieves, he was a fixture of queer nightlife in New York. He was easy to spot from a distance, typically dressed in an oversized poncho with a brightly dyed, faux-fur coat and ribbons in his braids.” As De Nieves prepares for a major exhibition at the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston this autumn, Evan Moffitt visits the New York–based artist as he reflects on an unusual journey through churches, antique shops, and concert stages. 

Interview: Afua Hirsch and James Barnor 

“You form the story before you take the pictures: you take two or three, and you are on the way.” On the eve of his 92nd birthday and a major retrospective at the Serpentine Gallery, James Barnor speaks to Afua Hirsch about why he will always feel lucky to have documented Ghanaian independence in 1957. 

Also featuring 

Daisy Hildyard offers 1,500 words on Mary Ramsden’s method of channelling the presence of a portrait sitter. From locked-down Athens, Ben Eastham writes about the artistic and political value of escapism. Shiv Kotecha responds to a film by Dave McKenzie. Plus, Chloe Stead, Roisin Tapponi, Terence Trouillot and Ana Tuazon contribute to a dossier on mutual aid during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Columns: Bodybuilding 

Emily Stamey looks at how artists are using sports uniforms as material to question masculinity’s visual coordinates, Jamian Juliano-Villani details her exhausting workout routine, Jörg Scheller explores the history of European artist-bodybuilders, and Evan Moffitt interviews Maya Lin on her forthcoming Ghost Forest installation for New York’s Madison Square Park. Also, ahead of a touring retrospective of Sophie Taeuber-Arp’s work at Kunstmuseum Basel, Tate Modern, London, and MoMA, New York, Olivia Sudjic revisits the artist’s radical puppet theatre designs. 

Public Art Now! 

The issue closes with a collection of essays, interviews and walking tours on the subject of public art. Sukhdev Sandhu looks at the great sculpture in New York City’s transportation hubs; Laura Grace Ford leads a speculative tour of London’s Canary Wharf; Aldo Solano Rojas examines Mexico City’s modernist public works; and Wilson Tarbox guides readers through Paris’s hidden treasures. Trisha Low remembers an early encounter with the Merlion, Singapore’s ubiquitous symbol of independence; Bonaventure Soh Bejeng Ndikung writes about Olu Oguibe’s controversial monument to refuges in Kassel, Germany; Jenenne Whitfield examines the legacy of Tyree Guyton’s Heidelberg Project in Detroit; and Tavia Nyong’o looks at a newly commissioned installation by David Hammons at New York’s Chelsea Piers. Sean Burns speaks to Maggi Hambling about Oscar Wilde and brushing off criticism; Travis Diehl interviews Aria Dean on the subject of counter monuments; and Lena Henke speaks to Carina Bukuts about her approach to making public work. 

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From this issue

Kevin Beasley, Suzanne McClelland and Hank Willis Thomas use sports jerseys to consider the game’s politics of gender, race and class 

BY Emily Stamey |

A retrospective at Kunstmuseum Basel, Tate Modern and MoMA pays tribute to the pioneering Swiss dadaist

BY Olivia Sudjic |

In a specially-commissioned photography project, Laura Grace Ford and Majed Aslam journey through the ghostly citadel of London’s pandemic-stricken business district

BY Laura Grace Ford AND Majed Aslam |

The artist and activist answers the frieze questionnaire

BY Zanele Muholi |

The painter and former gymnastics teacher offers tips for getting fit

BY Jamian Juliano-Villani |

As a major retrospective opens at Serpentine Galleries, the photographer speaks to Afua Hirsch about capturing the energy of Ghanaian independence in Accra and the swinging sixties in London

BY Afua Hirsch AND James Barnor |

Driven mostly by a desire for aesthetic perfection, the sport should be reconsidered as an art form

BY Jörg Scheller |

In an age that prizes ‘engagement’, is there usefulness in choosing not to?

BY Ben Eastham |

With the opening of Ghost Forest at Madison Square Park, the artist and architect discusses memory and ecology with frieze Senior Editor Evan Moffitt

BY Maya Lin |

The artist’s exuberant sculptures and paintings, drawn from religious icons and club culture, are emblems of a changing New York 

BY Evan Moffitt AND Raúl de Nieves |

A series of portraits made during lockdown channels its sitters from afar

BY Daisy Hildyard AND Mary Ramsden |

In collaboration with a team of neurologists, Abbas Zahedi transformed a cancelled exhibition into a therapeutic space for frontline workers

BY Róisín Tapponi AND Abbas Zahedi |

Julia Bonn and Inga Zimprich publish information on self-care that underwhelms by design in order to include as many people as possible


Halsey’s community centre channels the grassroots spirit of the West Coast civil-rights and Black-arts movements of the 1960s and ’70s

BY Ana Tuazon AND Lauren Halsey |

On the occasion of McKenzie’s Whitney show, Shiv Kotecha writes revisits Old Man/Sarcophagus (2013)

BY Shiv Kotecha AND Dave McKenzie |

Jenenne Whitfield, the artist's wife and president of the Heidelberg Project, reflects on the history and legacy of Guyton's magnum opus: an outdoor sculpture in Detroit's east side

BY Jenenne Whitfield |

From Yayoi Kusama's flora-inspired sculptures at the New York Botanical Garden to this year's Shanghai Urban Space Art Season, these are must-see public art shows across the globe

BY frieze |

From fetishistic sculpture gardens in Italy to a giant breast in New York, the artist speaks with Carina Bukuts on what role gender and sex play in public art

BY Carina Bukuts AND Lena Henke |

The artist on her proposed New Monument for Franska Tomten and how minimalist aesthetics speak to the complex history of Sweden’s colonial past

BY Travis Diehl AND Aria Dean |

The public art installation in Hudson River Park will pay tribute to Matta-Clark’s iconic Day’s End and the commerce, crime, leisure and lovemaking of Manhattan's waterfront past 

BY Tavia Nyong’o |

Trisha Low on encountering Singapore’s fantastic, ubiquitous symbol of independence

BY Trisha Low |

From its secret removal to its celebrated resurrection, Bonaventure Soh Bejeng Ndikung explores the lives and afterlives of the Kassel statue controversy

The artist speaks to Sean Burns about her polarising public sculptures and capturing the spirit of her subjects

BY Sean Burns AND Maggi Hambling |

DonChristian Jones on the genesis of the art collective Public Assistants and the inward process of community-based work

BY Terence Trouillot |