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Frieze frame

Postcard for Al’s Grand Hotel in 1971, by Allen Ruppersberg.

Visionaire x Gap: Richard Phillips.

Visionaire x Gap: Richard Phillips.







In May 1971, a travel brochure circulated around the creative set of Los Angeles. In typeface borrowed from a Chinese takeout menu, the leaflet promised “the finest accommodations at the most reasonable rates” in Hollywood. Al’s Grand Hotel was the ruse de arte of Allen Ruppersberg: for six weeks, guests could stay in one of his seven themed rooms (tucked within a suburban Craftsman-style shell), from the Jesus Room replete with a massive cross abutting the bed to the “B” Room – fully stocked for B-list parties, picnic basket and all. Tomorrow, Al’s reemerges as a pop-up installation at the Frieze New York, restaged by L.A. art force Public Fiction (as one of six Frieze Projects curated by the High Line’s director of art programming Cecilia Alemani). Sited within the fair tent on Randalls Island, the hotel will only be open for four nights starting tonight, at inflation-adjusted rates (then: $15-$30 per night; now $350-$375, dinner and breakfast included). Bookings are granted by calling 646-578-8471; a robotic female recording will ask you to leave your name, number and desired dates, one night (stands) only; then, await a call; only eight people plus companions are fated to be guests. Al’s reincarnation feels – albeit at a remove – akin to the woman’s indulged expression on this tee (part of a Gap and Visionaire collab collection for Frieze featuring 11 artist-designed t-shirts, available tomorrow at select retail locations). In its original iteration, Al’s engaged viewers as consumers, requiring their participation, and during its spring lifespan, the hotel became a hub for happenings, performances and parties – an art historical landmark. Can Al’s restaging stoke as much vitality in a blink with two beds?

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