Sally Pacifica Goes Hollywood


“Here, Sally?” Sophina gestures over the steering wheel. I nod. I like Sophina. She’s lucky: an intern. They aren’t paying her anything, but she isn’t missing fourth grade. I cross my legs over the booster seat. I want to appear profession­al. Artreview hasn’t washed the seat since the last freelancer: it smells of lemon curd and sweat. I practise a firm handshake against my other hand, in preparatio­n. If Sophina likes me enough I could get a real staœ position, one where they let me eat actual food. Now they feed me through small tubes attached to buckets hidden below the passenger seat. I smell the left vat first. Shepherd’s pie. I can’t say it’s quite to my liking. I try the other one. ¡¢ Tips. “Perfect,” I say, trying to deepen my voice.

Sophina says goodbye to me in British, and that she’ll see me inside the fair – I think. I can’t understand her very well, but I nod anyway, looking towards the tents. The festivitie­s are run by Frieze, which is supposedly a media company. All of Hollywood’s Uber drivers have come out for this. I smile to a few suited men leaning on Subarus, smoking. They look like real artists. They are maybe the only ones here. I find the ticket booths by following a dense, moving mass of streetwear. A security guard looks surprised by my press pass. He asks where my parents are. I loudly discuss ¥¦§ˆ. I’m contemplat­ing saying a slur – something to signal my contempora­ry eau de critique – but the guard lets me through, waving me in the direction of four or five women I recognise from their meme accounts. In person they look more nervous, but also more funny. I watch as one of them tries to woo an Obama Daughter, oœering her an American Spirit. I smirk and contemplat­e a porcelain replica of a trash bag. The Obama Daughters would come to the opening of an envelope. Most of the fairgoers wear many hats. Shearling trappers, bright berets and model/writer/director/©ªs. Younger women don clothing made of strategica­lly tied ribbons. I avoid the gazes of other children. In the corner of my eye I see Sophina, already sipping a glass of prosecco. A Drift editor fawns over her. I hear him oœer a lengthy, ambivalent opinion on polyamory. I’m jealous. The interns get all the good stuœ.

“What’s your skincare routine?” asks the director of an ¬® gallery, stroking my cheek. “I love your shoes,” says his assistant, pointing at my sneakers, which light up as I walk. I don’t have the heart to tell them I’m nine, so I ask the director about his sweatshirt, which reads ¯° ±°¬¥¢ in black lettering. Maybe it is a statement of fact, a welcoming gesture from the artworld. Maybe I too belong here, after all. He points. The phrase is mirrored across the room, printed on one of the walls at Lisson Gallery. The sweatshirt, I realise, is promotiona­l. It’s not supposed to tell me anything. Tacky aphorisms are in. They’re everywhere. It’s ironic, I think. In Jordan Wolfson’s wall-mounted relief at Sadie Coles, lists of common, self-consciousl­y trite phrases mark the side of a rough wooden panel. ‘Your feelings are valid,’ one of them reads. ‘It’s  to not be ,’ says another.

I peek inside the fair’s exclusive Deutsche lounge. You have to kill someone to get in, or be a Zwirner client. Just past the door a wall text announces a new fellowship, which will hire a lucky young person to create small action figures for a superhero franchise. Through a haze of blonde people I spot a small cell in the room’s centre. A shy ‡ˆ‰ film student peers at me from inside. An auctioneer bangs a gavel, and the film student beams, rattling the bars of his cage in celebratio­n. He won the fellowship, at least. A bad feeling creeps over me. I leave the area, walking through the Koch pavilion, where the air is crisp and smells of sage. Elizabeth Koch, I’ve heard, is very into incense. Outside I wind my way through crowds of influencer­s. They’re gathered around something I cannot make out. Is it Stefan Simchowitz, milking a young calf? I smell straw. Gossip swirls. I shove past an infant left unattended in a stroller. ‘My dad is at the feminist champagne activation,’ a sign reads, perched on the baby’s tiny feet. I’ve heard about the event. It has something to do with beavers. I hand the baby one of the lollipops I’ve stashed in my fanny pack. It chokes, and I take it back, cursing my bad luck. I wasted a lollipop on a toddler with a bib pricier than dinner at Horses.

Finally, I see it. In the centre of the fair, a metal armature suspends a floating glass cube from long thin wires. Inside are two young female figures dressed in leather. They wear silver-ringed harnesses that evade logic. A plaque hammered into the ground details the name of the sculpture: . . I hold a hand to my mouth. The figures begin to move. Their faces are bright orange pills. Ozempic holds a syringe. They fling fake bills and ball gags into the air. It is an ode, or maybe an elegy, to their success. A few sales assistants escort older couples around the cube. The younger people seem uninterest­ed – “passé”, whispers an Artnet columnist – except for the women with meme accounts. One, with Obama Daughter in tow, stands motionless at the cube’s edge, her manicured fingers clasped.

Sophina appears, oœering me an apple she found on the ground. I thank her and take a bite, watching the robotic, humanoid Adderall figure motion vaguely at its surroundin­gs with a bullwhip. Sophina stabs daintily at a sprig of buœalo cauliflowe­r in a recycled bamboo bowl. “The artist has a long history in pharmaceut­icals,” says a salesman wearing tinted pink sunglasses. “Fascinatin­g,” says his client, a woman with a purse shaped like a large white swan. He’s exploring domination, the man says. They walk away, discussing pricing.

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