Migrating to the Metaverse

‘DALI — Magnifying Glass’ by Carlo Tanseco, 2020. / Artwork from exhibitor Art Cube Gallery

Traditionally held in February during the National Arts Month in Makati City, Art Fair Philippines, one of the most notable art events in the country, has been pushed to 6 to 15 May this year because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The global health crisis also forced organizers to hold an entirely online event for the first time, as with other events recently, creating its own niche in the so-called “metaverse,” a collective virtual shared space, with its website, www.artfairphilippines.com. Quite appropriately, Art Fair Philippines 2021 will highlight digital art.

“We were debating whether or not we should push through with an online fair this year. We had to do more than simply put up a site where visitors could click on images of art for sale. We had to conceptualize an event that would 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 art,” fair co-founder and co-organizer Trickie Lopa said.

The digital film ‘Tad Mol, Inventor of The Letter G’ by Jeremy Couillard.

“So, this year’s fair focuses on digital arts. We feel that as we have no choice but to mount an online fair, we should show art that suits this platform. And given that we’ve all spent the past year living in our gadgets, and it looks like this year will be the same, we may as well introduce the Filipino audience to digital artwork. It actually is quite an exciting time to be exploring this form of contemporary art because the digital art scene has been moving very, very quickly.”

With the fair being online, organizers have to upgrade their website, which anybody can access for free, serving as their gateway to a whole new world of appreciating and immersing in art.

Fair co-founder and co-organizer Lisa Periquet shared, “Because we have taken the fair online, we’ve worked very hard to boost the website so it can accommodate all of those virtual capabilities that are needed for an art fair.”

Butanding Barrio in Puerto Princesa, Palawan is part of the art residency program, which is a new section of the fair.

The website has added features for an enhanced experience, such as videos of each exhibitor, produced in collaboration with Globe Studios, serving as an introduction.

“Because it’s online, there’s no physical space. So, this is one way of finding out more about the artists who are exhibiting on that page, for example, or the exhibit itself or the theme of the exhibit, or perhaps even something about the gallery,” Periquet said.

Another feature is a messaging service, facilitating interaction between the viewer and the gallery.

“You can ask anything, any question, through this messaging service,” she said.

There will be a virtual studio visit with Alfredo Esquillo at the Eskinita Art Farm in Batangas.

Exhibitors this year

Periquet revealed that there are 43 participating galleries or exhibitors this year — 22 from the Philippines and 11 international galleries with one from Spain and another from Italy — which will be having their own online viewing rooms.

Exhibitors include 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.

‘VALERIE’ by Olivier Duhamel, 2016. / Artwork from La Lanta Fine Art

Crypto art

According to Lopa, at the forefront of Art Fair Philippines’ digital thrust is non-fungible token (NFT).

“NFT or non -fungible token has recently been making headlines all over the world… Many of you may know that an NFT was recently auctioned off by Christie’s for $80 million. Well, Art Fair Philippines 2021 will take you on a journey into understanding the basics on buying an NFT and meeting artists and galleries that are embedded into the crypto art world,” she said.

Featured in the ArtFairPH/Projects section is the NFT 101 Showcase, presented by the Bank of the Philippine Islands and co-curated with Tropical Futures Institute, a multi-disciplinary think tank and studio based in Cebu; and Narra Art Gallery, a Filipino digital art gallery.

“There will be panel discussions and artists’ talks for both collectors and artists, guaranteed to take you into an NFT deep dive,” she further said. “Our NFT showcase will focus on educating and empowering creatives, collectors and the general public about the crypto art globally, as well as highlighting our own strong, vibrant community in the Philippines…We will define what an NFT or non-fungible token is for you, guys. We’ll make you familiar with crypto arts. We will make you as familiar with blockchain as anybody out there.”

The 10 Days of Art installation at the Ayala Tower One’s fountain area.

She continued: “We tapped people to help us to put this section together — Chris Fussner of Tropical Futures Institute, who many of you may know as a gallery which actually represents artists working in traditional media. With him are Colin Goltra and Gabby Dizon, who are actually big in this crypto art community and they’re Filipinos. They own Narra Gallery, the first Filipino gallery for NFT.”

Data in Film section

Digital art is also featured in the section ArtFairPH/Film.

“As many of you may remember, we inaugurated our film section in 2020 which we Globe Platinum. For this year’s film section, we welcome Daata as our exhibition partner. Daata is based in the UK which have been pioneers in promoting and pushing work in the digital sphere,” Lopa said.

Daata is a digital platform that commissions original digital artworks by established and emerging artists, allowing viewers to stream or download high-quality digital artworks on any device.

“Through this collaboration, the Fair has been able to commission three works that will debut in the art fair. The first artist whom we commissioned is Jeremy Couillard, an American artist currently based in New York. He’s actually trained as a painter but shifted to doing videos working with virtual reality and even designing games. His work here is about one of his recurring characters Tad Mol, a shaman who invented the letter G,” Lopa said.

Tanya Cruz, Hana Omori and Isabel Ramos of Keiken.

Another artist the fair commissioned is Petra Cortrigh, a Los Angeles-based artist, “whose practice stems from manipulating digital pieces.”

“Most recently her painting has been used as an image for Copper, the Commes de Garcons perfume. Her work here originated from a project with a new museum, and it explores the relationship between painting and video,” Lopa said.

Also involved is Keiken, an art collective co-founded by young women artists who live in London and Berlin — Tanya Cruz, Hana Omori and Isabel Ramos. “They describe their work as from a speculative world, meaning that they straddle between moving images, CGI, augmented reality as well as analog materials,” Lopa said.

“Rounding up this year’s digital art focus is a special presentation of the six winners of the Julius Baer Next Generation Art Prize. Julius Baer has been a sponsor of the art fair and they are also a strong supporter of the arts. It launched this inaugural competition for Southeast Asian artists with a focus on the digital image, recognizing it as a medium for the future. We opened this to Southeast Asian artists from November 2020 to February 2021, and we are very lucky because we will have the six winners featured especially in the art fair, and we will be happy to share them with our Filipino audience,” she shared.

Primo Marella Gallery is one of the exhibitors.

New section of artist residency

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

This is open from 6 May to 15 June to all Filipino artists across all disciplines, in which five will be selected based on their submitted portfolios. They will be paired with art spaces and galleries in different parts of the Philippines.

“This will enable artists to leave their environment and move elsewhere, to be able to continue their art practice outside,” said Dindin Araneta, another co-founder and co-organizer.

The residences include the Manila Observatory in Quezon City, where artists can work with scientists and integrate science into their work; Linangan Art Residency in Alfonso, Cavite, which is geared towards young artists and is focused more on art history and theory; Emerging Islands in San Juan, La Union; The Orange Project in Bacolod, Negros Occidental; and Barrio Butanding in Puerto Princesa, Palawan, where the artist will have opportunity to work with the community as well as enjoy dives and snorkeling activities.”

The resulting works from the residencies of the artists will be presented at Art Fair Philippines 2022.

Sixth edition of Photo section

ArtFairPH/Photo, co-presented by the Swiss private bank Julius Baer, will highlight Ding Panganiban, who will show his ambrotype collodion process of developing photographs taken with a vintage camera and printed on glass.

Paris-based Filipino photographer Ding Panganiban using the ambrotype collodion process.

“One of the sections of the fair which has become very popular is the photo section… This is the fourth edition now of the photo section. We have six exhibitors, and we also have a very special exhibit for the photo section,” Periquet said.

“We are featuring the work of Ding Panganiban. Ding is a Filipino photographer who’s based in Paris and he works with a special type of photographic process called ambrotype collodion. This is a process that was developed and became extremely popular in 1920s and 30s worldwide. So what Ding does is he would take a picture or photograph in a modern setting, and he will transpose it or translate it through this ambrotype process, and the result is beautiful photographs which look like they came from another era… So, tied with this special exhibit, they will actually be doing a demo of the ambrotype process from his studio in Paris… Aside from the works he’s selling, they will also be offering remote studio portrait sessions via Zoom.”

Talks, workshops and tours

The section ArtFairPH/Talks aims to cultivate arts appreciation and deepen understanding on art and practices with daily discussions.

“The Art Fair has roots on arts education, and we continue our activities for the year with our education partners, the Ateneo Art Gallery and Museum Foundation of the Philippines. We’re also proud to introduce a new partner for this year, Art Review, which is one of the leading art magazines in the world.,” Araneta said.

There will also be a series of workshops called Open Studios, which was launched last year. This year, it will go online with live demonstrations and recorded instructional sessions to afford fair visitors views of art-making.

Art Fair Philippines will also be offering virtual tours.

“Our tours program has taken a region component, as we feature tours that will be happening outside of Metro Manila,” Araneta said. “First is Moira Lang, a well-known filmmaker and art collector. She’ll be taking us around her community, where she recently moved to, Baguio, where she also transported her entire art collection. She will also be showing us highlights from her connection. Visual artist Alfredo Equillo will be taking us around for a virtual studio visit of the Eskinita Art Gallery based in Batangas.”

10 Days of Art

The 10 Days of Art initiative started in 2018 to drum up interest for the fair and to bring a piece of it outside of its actual venue. Even though this year’s fair is virtual, an installation is planned at the Ayala Tower One’s fountain area with live screenings of the selections of ArtFairPH/Film digital artwork.

For more information, visit www.artfairphilippines.com and follow Art Fair Philippines on Instagram (@artfairph) and Facebook (www.facebook.com/artfairph).

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Credit belongs to : www.tribune.net.ph

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