What to expect from Art Fair Philippines 2021

Since its birth nine years ago, the annual Art Fair has become a go-to event for artists, students, and professionals alike.

Art Fair founders Trickie Lopa, Lisa Periquet, and Dindin Araneta had to get creative – yet again – in these pandemic-stricken times. Just like last year's Art in the Park, they decided to hold the 2021 version online.

Organizers believe that the Art Fair still needed to continue, in spite of the restrictions brought about by the pandemic.

It doesn't mean, however, that physical fairs are now a thing of the past. “[Online and physical fairs] won't be separate, but they'll be parallel. They'll be paralleling each other in the interest of accessibility and immediacy,” Periquet said in a press launch.

Featuring 43 local and international exhibitors, Art Fair will take its participants through an up close, digital gallery experience.

With Art Fair’s focus on pivoting online, here are the new things that we can expect from the upcoming event:

Digital art, NFTs, and the 'metaverse'

This year’s Art Fair goes modern with their NFT 101 showcase they call the "metaverse." A Non-Fungible Token (NFT) is a unique digital token that has been making waves in the world of crypto-art. Accessing the showcase and purchasing the NFTs require cryptocurrency, according to the press launch. The "metaverse" is co-curated by the Tropical Futures Institute and Narra Art Gallery.

Given Art Fair’s digital thrust this year, they will also feature digital films made by contemporary artists such as Jeremy Couillard and Petra Cortright, who created Tad Mol - Inventor of the Letter G and Motels a Sept-iles, respectively; as well as Keiken, a collaborative practice founded by Tanya Cruz, Hana Omori, and Isabel Ramos.

New residency program for Filipino artists

Art Fair will also launch a new residencies section, which Filipino artists of any discipline can apply to.

They will be selecting 5 artists who will be paired with various art galleries and spaces in the Philippines, including the Manila Observatory in Quezon City; Linangan Art Residency in Alfonso, Cavite; The Orange Project in Bacolod, Negros Occidental; Emerging Islands in San Juan, La Union; and Barrio Butanding in Puerto Princesa, Palawan. The selected artists’ projects will be presented during Art Fair 2022.

Ambrotype photography exhibit

In contrast to the event’s focus on digital art, they will feature Ding Panganiban, a Filipino photographer based in Paris who uses the ancient ambrotype collodion for his photos. Panganiban’s pictures are distinct in that it captures modern scenes using an archaic medium. He will be conducting an ambrotype workshop from his studio in France, as well as remote portrait studio sessions via Zoom.

(Virtual) talk, workshops, and tours

The organizers of Art Fair will also showcase various talks, workshops, and tours from the start of the fair to its end.

The topics of the talks include a chat with three artists and their NFT-making journey, experimental printmaking, and digital scarcity, among others. 

Meanwhile, the line-up of workshops range from child-friendly activities such as printmaking and collage making for kids, to more advanced workshops like pottery and a demo on the ambrotype process in photography.

Virtual tours will also take place in the event, featuring the collection of Baguio-based filmmaker Moira Lang, and a studio visit with artist Alfredo Equillo.

The 10 Days of Art initiative continues

In an effort to promote the Art Fair through other means, the 10 Days of Art initiative will continue despite the event’s online shift. The organizers will place an installation at the Ayala Tower One in Makati City, with a live screening of Couillard’s Tad Mol - Inventor of the Letter G and other featured digital works in the upcoming event.

Art Fair will run from May 6 to 15, 2021, via their website. - Andrea Tibayan/Rappler.com

Andrea Tibayan is a Rappler intern