When art moves within the city: What to expect in Art Fair 2017

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Jose Tence Ruiz's studio. Ruiz, who represented the country in the Venice Biennale in 2015, is one of the artists whose works will be featured in Art Fair Philippines, which will run from Feb. 16 to 19 in The Link carpark in Makati. Photo courtesy of ART FAIR PHILIPPINES

Manila (CNN Philippines Life) — Art Fair Philippines doesn’t stop in a carpark — it roves around the city.

For four years now, the Art Fair has been known for providing a playground for “the best in Philippine contemporary art,” by annually curating an extensive collection of works from select galleries around Metro Manila, newly commissioned projects from the most notable local contemporary artists, and several award-winning pieces from other countries.

Besides the physical artworks, there are also the daily tours in Manila’s museums coinciding with the grand exhibit, as well as talks by experts and curators — which they have branded this year as Art Fair PH/Tours and Art Fair PH/Talks, respectively.

The center of the whole spectacle is a carpark: The Link, Makati, which is the venue for the main exhibit, where the gallery’s collections and the commissioned projects are put on display, to be seen, experienced, and eventually, bought.

art fair 2017 secret fresh.jpg "Alphass's Grit," Egg Fiasco. Photo courtesy of ART FAIR PHILIPPINES

But interesting works and activities that have come out in the recent installments of the fair have shown that it goes beyond commerce in the carpark; It’s a whole experience that aims to bring Philippine art closer to the people. For the price of one ticket (₱250 for regulars and ₱50 for students), one is able to indulge on all the works on display and avail a visual bombardment of the country’s best in contemporary art.

The organizers of Art Fair Philippines promise a “bigger and better” art fair for its 5th edition this year, with 46 galleries (almost double the number from when it first started in 2013), seven of which are international galleries from other countries in Southeast Asia, Japan, Hong Kong, and Taiwan. There’s an additional floor as a lecture lounge, and an expectancy of 22,000 guests, which is more than triple the scale of the audience count of the fair’s first edition.

art fair 2017 - edouard malingue.jpg "Classroom," Tromaroma. Photo courtesy of ART FAIR PHILIPPINES

This year’s Art Fair PH/Projects feature interactive and thought-provoking installations by internationally established local artists such as Jose Tence Ruiz, who represented the country in the Venice Biennale in 2015, Agnes Arellano, Elmer Borlongan, Patricia Perez Eustaquio, Emmanuel Garibay, Dex Fernandez, Art Fair 2016 alumnus Mark Justiniani, Maria Jeona Zoleta, and the WSK group of sound artists.

Art Fair PH/Talks include lectures by Canadian writer and sociologist Dr. Sarah Thornton, who authored the bestseller “Seven Days in the Art World,” historian and journalist Professor Ambeth Ocampo, and writer and curator Professor Tony Godfrey on what the “masterpiece” means today.

art fair 2017 agnes arellano.JPG Agnes Arellano works on her goddesses. Photo courtesy of ART FAIR PHILIPPINES

Besides this edition’s daily Art Fair PH/Tours which will be in the National Museum of Fine Arts and in museums in Quezon City, Manila, and Ayala, the fair further extends the experience from the carpark with “10 Days of Art”: a series of events around Makati involving galleries, museums, bars, restaurants, and retail establishments all over the city.

Among these events are public art installations such as Charlie Co’s surreal interpretation of current events called “Bombardment,” a mural of repeating patterns under the Legazpi underpass created by the Cavity Collective, photographer Xyza Cruz Bacani’s “Humans of Makati,” light installations from repurposed Christmas decors by Derek Tumala, and Hong Kong sculptor Allison Wong David’s “Unusual Clarity,” an installation of stonewear panels that emit sound.

art fair 2017 beejay esber.jpg Untitled work by Beejay Esber. Photo courtesy of ART FAIR PHILIPPINES

At the heart of all these installations is “Street,” a 61-minute slice-of-life video montage of the people of Manhattan, New York, captured in slow motion. Created by British-born painter and filmmaker James Nares, the clip will screen nightly at the Ayala Triangle Gardens from Feb. 15 to 19.

At its core, the grand celebration of art intends to recontextualize artworks from their oft-accused white-walled high castles out onto the streets, and also to repurpose a business district into a thriving hub of creativity. “Art fair has found a home in Makati,” says one of the organizers of Art Fair Philippines. “It positions the city not just a center for business but also for entertainment, and now, arts and culture.”

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Art Fair Philippines 2017 will run from Feb. 16 to 19, from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily at The Link carpark, Ayala Center, Makati City. “10 Days of Art” will take place around the central business district from Feb. 9 to 19. For more information, visit Art Fair Philippines’ website.