10 Days of Art

JUST because there is a pandemic does not mean that there can’t be an art fair. Art Fair Philippines normally includes exhibition areas that stretch out through four floors of a Makati carpark, with space for workshops and talks, and outdoor spaces for installations —  and all of that will be found in the online version of the 9th Art Fair Philippines which is set on May 6 to 15. Not surprisingly, the fair will   highlight digital arts.

“When we were debating whether or not we should push through with an online fair this year, we knew that we had to do more than setting up a site where visitors could click on images of art for sale. We had to conceptualize an event that will keep to our mission of widening the audience for the visual arts and expanding the exposure of the fair visitors to various forms of contemporary arts,” Trickie Colayco-Lopa, Art Fair Philippines co-founder, said in a press conference held via Zoom on April 14.

So this year, guests are welcome to visit Art Fair Philippines 2021 at  www.artfairphilippines.com daily for free. It will feature 43 exhibitors — 32 from the Philippines and 11 from abroad —  who will showcase artworks in their online viewing rooms and videos.

This year’s exhibitors are: 1335Mabini, A3 Arndt Art Agency, Altro Mondo Gallery, Archivo 1984, Art Agenda S.E.A. (Singapore), Art Cube, Art Elaan, Art Porters Gallery (Singapore), Art Underground, Art Verite Gallery, art/n23, Artery Art Space, Avellana Art Gallery, bio|trans|forms, CANVAS, District Gallery, Gajah Gallery (Singapore), Galeria Mayoral (Spain), Galerie Roberto, Galerie Stephanie, Gallery Kogure (Japan), J Studio, J StudioHQ, Kaida Contemporary, Kobayashi Gallery (Japan), La Lanta Gallery (Thailand), León Gallery, Lotus Asian Art, Metro Gallery, Mono8 Gallery, Orange Project, Pinaglabanan Gallery, Primo Marella Gallery (Italy), Qube Gallery, Salcedo Private View, Secret Fresh, Shutterspace Studios, Silverlens, Tarzeer Pictures, The Crucible Gallery, Thomas Epperson Photographs, Yavuz Gallery (Singapore and Australia), and Ysobel Art Gallery.

The website’s home page will feature banner videos showcasing works from the participating galleries. It’s other features include artwork images with details, information of galleries, and links to messaging services including Messenger, Viber, and WhatsApp.

Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs) have been making headlines internationally of late. NFTs are one of a kind digital properties which are bought through crypto-currency. One of its headline-makers is a collage art of images by Beeple (graphic designer Mike Winkelmann) which was sold at a Christie’s auction in March for $69.3 million worth of the crypto-currency Ether.

The art fair will tackle this new digital landscape through a special project section and a number of talks.

The ArtFairPH/Projects section presents “Welcome to the Metaverse,” The NFT 101 Showcase, which will be co-curated with Tropical Futures Institute, a multi-disciplinary think tank and studio based in Cebu, Philippines, and Narra Art Gallery, a Filipino digital art gallery. Both galleries will have their showcases for sale.

Meanwhile, the ArtFairPH/Talks will feature daily discussions presented in partnership with the Ateneo Art Gallery, Museum Foundation of the Philippines, and international publication, Art Review. The talks include: ArtFairPH x Art Review on May 9 which is a panel discussion on NFTs; “Getting to Know the Digital Artists Commissioned by Art Fair Ph x data” on May 12; “How to Become a Crypto Artist” on May 14; and, “What’s Next for NFTs with the Narra Art Gallery” on May 15. There will be no limit on the number of attendees. Pre-registration is accessible through the website’s Events page. The talks will be available on the website after the duration of the 10-day online art fair.

The talks will give audience members the opportunity to understand the crypto basics, what buying an NFT entails, and a chance to meet artists and gallerists that are embedded within the crypto art community.

Rounding up this year’s digital art focus is a special presentation of the six winners of the Julius Baer Next Generation Art Prize — an inaugural competition for Southeast Asian artists, with a focus on the digital image, recognizing it as a medium of the future.

“Art will naturally come out online. That’s the reason why NFTs exist, they’re bound to get better; they’re bound to get more interesting but they are not the only future [in] contemporary arts. All the other art forms will still be there and [NFTs] will not replace that,” Ms. Lopa said.

“It’s just very interesting to know about it (NFTs), because they have become really a disruptor in the art world… It’s interesting to see if that disruption will have a long lasting effect,” Art Fair co-founder Lisa Ongpin-Periquet added.

Art Fair Philippines is also launching a new section, ArtFairPH/Residencies, an artist residency program project in partnership with Bleeding Heart Rum Corp., the makers of Don Papa Rum.

The program is open to all Filipino artists across all disciplines. Five artists will be selected based on their submitted portfolios. The qualifying artists will be paired with art spaces and galleries from different parts of the Philippines —  Manila Observatory in Quezon City; Linangan Art Residency in Alfonzo, Cavite; Emerging Islands in San Juan, La Union; The Orange Project in Bacolod, Negros Occidental; and Barrio Butanding in Puerto Princesa, Palawan.

“This will enable artists to leave their environment and move elsewhere to continue their art practice outside their studios or homes,” Art Fair co-founder Geraldine “Dindin” B. Araneta said.

The application period for the residencies runs from May 6 until June 15. The participating artists will be announced on July 15. The artists’ resulting projects will be presented at Art Fair Philippines 2022. More details and updates will be posted on the art fair’s website and social media pages.

Art Fair Philippines will also debut digital artworks specially commissioned for  the second ArtFairPH/Film. Developed in partnership with Daata, a digital platform that commissions original digital artworks by established and emerging artists, the showcase will feature 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.

Meanwhile, the fourth edition of ArtFairPH/Photo will highlight six exhibitors including Paris-based Filipino photographer Ding Panganiban. He will bring to the fair his ambrotype collodion process of developing photographs taken with a vintage camera and printed on glass.

Launched last year, the series of workshops called Open Studios goes online with a selection of live demonstrations and recorded instructionals aimed to give fair visitors hands-on experiences in art-making. There will also be two virtual tours: a look at the singular collection of filmmaker and current Baguio resident Moira Lang, and a studio visit with acclaimed artist Alfredo Equillo.

Even with the art fair going online, the 10 Days of Art initiative continues with an installation planned for Ayala Tower One’s fountain area which includes live screenings of the selections of ArtFairPH/Film digital artwork.

“Despite our digital shift, we’re happy to report that plans are set to carry on with some public art projects,” Ms. Lopa said. “There are also plans for a few more public installations but we’re just hoping that circumstances will allow us to mount them.”

After having conducted two online installments of Art in the Park, Ms. Periquet said that the art market continues to thrive even online.

“Artists still want to show their work. They’re dying to show their work because it’s difficult these days. And people also want to buy works of art. They’re still very interested in art and viewing it online doesn’t seem to be so much of a problem, actually,” Ms. Periquet said.

“And then, if you ask me what makes it worth it? For you guys, I’m not sure… We just love it,” she said.

For more information on this year’s program and schedule of activities, visit the Art Fair Philippines website www.artfairphilippines.com and follow Art Fair Philippines on Instagram (@artfairph) and Facebook (www.facebook.com/artfairph). — Michelle Anne P. Soliman