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Art Fair Philippines (AFP) is moving out of The Link car park in Makati City for its 2021 edition: it’s going online and entering the world of crypto art and non-fungible tokens (NFTs).

An NFT is a digital asset (a drawing, an image, a meme, an animated GIF, a video, even a tweet) and it uses the blockchain, the same technology behind bitcoin, to keep track of who owns the file. In March, a digital collage by an artist named Beeple fetched almost $70 million at a Christie’s auction, making the JPG file the most expensive NFT thus far. 

In this episode of B-Side, the three co-founders of Art Fair Philippines, Geraldine “Dindin” B. Araneta, Trickie C. Lopa, and Lisa O. Periquet, tell BusinessWorld reporter Michelle Anne P. Soliman how they transported the art fair from the car park into the world of crypto art.


The digital space is a platform unto itself. 

Mses. Lopa, Periquet, and Araneta spent the early months of last year’s lockdown immersing themselves in international art fairs that moved online.

“We had time to review the art fairs because there was a development in the way they turned out over the months.  Everybody was trying out different formulas and ideas,” Ms. Periquet said. 

“For example, we decided to embed a video in each exhibitor’s page. Because with lack of the physical interaction between the viewer and the gallerist or the artist, this is a way to learn more about the art that was showing on the page. And then one of the methods that we decided to use to also break down that kind of lack of physical interaction is a messaging service,” she added.

Being online expands accessibility. 

“Being online, the barriers of time and space and distance fall apart. So, there’s actually an easier way to connect because you don’t have to travel over here with a plane, if you’re from an international spot,” Ms. Periquet said of gathering more audiences. 

The digital format opened the opportunity for new programs, such as artist residencies.

“With everyone feeling a bit cooped up indoors, the idea is also to be able to see how else we can reach out to the public and take them elsewhere,” Ms. Araneta. 

Keep updated and stay curious (that means trying to understand NFTs).

AFP, together with London-based international contemporary art magazine ArtReview, is presenting a talk on NFTs.

“They [ArtReview] will be talking about NFTs from the point of view of non crypto natives and its effect on the contemporary art scene,” Ms. Lopa said. “At the same time, one of the NFT showcase talks will bring out alternative blockchain platforms that are said to be greener than the original blockchain platform.”

“With all the publicity surrounding [NFTs], it is becoming very attractive and very much an option,” Ms. Periquet said. “So, it tells me that this whole subject is really soaking in to a much wider audience than you would imagine. It’s not just people in the crypto world. It’s now people who are interested in both the art and in investing in it as a currency.” 

This B-Side episode was recorded remotely on April 22. Produced by Paolo L. Lopez and Sam L. Marcelo. Art Fair Philippines runs from May 6 to May 15.

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