Frieze London, October 11th 2023

Instagram sends you a notification:

@thisisanniepotts started a live video. Watch it before it ends!

You start watching. A woman in a pale pink bonnet, a matching bodice, a puffy white skirt with pink polkadots and black Mary Janes wields a blue shepherd’s cane in her right hand. She is facing away from the camera. She is dressed exactly like ‘Bo-Peep’ from Toy Story, although her clothes look tattered. Not just well-worn but as though they are starting to rot. She is speed-walking through a sparse, well-dressed crowd. Some people turn to watch her or jump out of her way. The phone-holder is following her. You recognise the setting to be that of an art fair. Paintings hung on white walls, collectors chatting to gallerists, people in black shirts and lanyards carrying trays of champagne flutes. The phone-holder is struggling to keep the phone stable whilst keeping up with the woman. She pushes through a particularly dense part of the crowd, turns a corner and stops just before reaching the Spruth Magers booth. She turns to face the camera now. It is Annie Potts, although she looks older. Too old. Her skin is cracked like porcelain and a shadow falls on parts of her face as if lit from above by a large bedside lamp. She is panting. She traces a circle with her cane on the floor around her, relaxes her shoulders into a long exhale, looks up to the marquee ceiling and starts chanting monotonously.


The phone-holder takes a few steps back and some bystanders come into view.  A small crowd starts to gather and the hum of distant chatter fades into the background. Annie is still chanting when the first comment appears on the live stream:

loool wtf’

Another follows:

‘Annie are you ok? So, Annie are you ok? Are you ok Annie?’

Annie Potts seems to be fixated on something directly above her that is out of shot. The growing crowd watches her and periodically looks up to the ceiling as if trying to find what she is looking at. Two more comments appear on the livestream:

‘guys what is actually happening? This is freaky’

'O ants, enter your dwellings that you not be crushed by Solomon and his soldiers while they perceive not’

The latter has been posted from an account you don’t recognise. It makes you feel uneasy. You focus back on the stream. Annie is still chanting and the video is starting to stabilise. Another comment follows from a different account:

‘why don’t you watch where you’re going next time ya bone head’

Shortly followed by three more:

‘What have I done to you that you beat me these three times? Am I not your donkey’

‘Mother, I am stupid’

‘Give orange me give eat orange me eat orange give me eat orange give me you’

Within seconds the live stream is being bombarded with similar messages with no obvious link. Your attention moves to the comments, trying to read them as they pop up and ascend out of view. When you focus back on the stream, Annie Potts has vanished. A hole in the floor lies in her place. A perfect circle. The crowd is silent, no voices can be heard.  The stream is pixelated now and you can’t quite make out anyone’s expressions. The silence is broken by two low frequency hits, the double tap of a finger on the screen. The stream freezes for a moment and then cuts to the front camera. You see a man’s face, cropped to show only his nostrils, mouth and grey beard. He looks like he’s in his eighties or nineties. A layer of dirt coats his skin and bits of earth cling to his wrinkles and facial hair. Smiling with an incomplete set of yellowing teeth, he whispers these words:

“Three miles east a scene is taking place. Fragility and temptation merge to form the perfect, impenetrable ground. A slender figure rests upon this ground, disrupting the cosmic order. He is not alone. An optimist perches nearby, illuminating the scene while a wise but uncertain sage towers over them both, casting a faint shadow. He is withered and fruitless.

The protagonist is nowhere to be seen but the stench of yearning still lingers in the air.

These characters are trapped in a stand off. Bound to hold this position for eternity. When their material bodies decay, they will be replaced by low quality renders of themselves. The familiar smell of livestock is rising from beneath the ground, and from above, soil threatens the en-”

The live stream cuts out here.