According to organizers of Art Fair Philippines, it did cross their minds not to pursue this year’s edition of the annual art event, the biggest to-do in the local art world since its debut in 2013. “But how sad if we didn’t do it,” Trickie Lopa, one of its founders, tells ANCX. “Besides, the artists are still working, and people want to see art!”
The venue for Art Fair this year is completely different. All the exhibitions connected to the event will most likely take place in the virtual space, given the latest safety restrictions brought about by the surge in Covid cases. But while this may sound discouraging, the success of the last two Art in the Park events—which both happened online—have only boosted the organizers’ confidence (the movers behind Art Fair and Art in the Park are the same) in moving forward with Art Fair. It agrees with Lopa’s statement that people want to see art. Clearly, not having a physical space to view artworks have not caused art watchers and buyers to lose interest. The Art in the Park sellers, she says, were very happy with the turnout of the August 2020 and February 2021 events. The August affair in fact logged in a high 30,000 visitors on its first day alone.
Lopa says their group has been planning this eighth edition of the Art Fair since the last quarter of 2020, picking inspiration and innovations from everywhere with regards how to stage an art event in the virtual space. Eager to offer this year’s audience with something new, they’ve tapped the incredibly fresh visions of Chris Fussner of the multi-disciplinary think tank Tropical Futures Institute, and that of Colin Goltra and Gabby Dizon of the digital art gallery Narra. These individuals are tasked to introduce the uninitiated to NFTs, or Non-Fungible Tokens, whose popularity has soared globally in the past few months. The three are expected to usher audiences into meeting artists and gallerists moving within the crypto art community.
For this first online edition, Art Fair visitors, says Lopa, can expect to marvel at digital artworks especially commissioned by the fair itself, developed in partnership with Daata, a digital platform that “allows for the streaming or downloading of high quality digital artworks.” Works from new media and contemporary artists Jeremy Couillard and Petra Cortright, and Keiken, a collaborative practice co-founded by artists Tanya Cruz, Hana Omori, and Isabel Ramos, will be part of what’s in store.
Other noteworthy features of this year’s Art Fair, if you ask us, include the exhibition by Paris-based Filipino photographer Ding Panganiban who will showcase his arresting black and white portraits resulting from his ambrotype collodion process of developing photographs. The guy takes pictures with a vintage camera and he prints the results on glass. He also recently found a way to take portraits remotely so he will be offering portrait sessions during the fair from his base in Paris, France.
And then there are the two virtual tours— a visit to acclaimed artist Alfredo Esquillo’s studio, and a visit to the Baguio home of filmmaker Moira Lang who will give Art Fair audiences a peek into her singular art collection. Lang is an early adopter of the works from the group Surrounded by Water, and over the years has added to her treasure trove works by artists from Lucban, Negros Oriental and Baguio.
This year’s Art Fair Philippines will run from May 6 up to 15. There are 43 participating galleries, 32 of which are local art spaces, both new and established.
[For more information on this year’s program and schedule of activities, visit www.artfairphilippines.com and follow Art Fair Philippines on Instagram (@artfairph) and Facebook (www.facebook.com/artfairph).]