Photos courtesy of Art Fair PH, Tarzeer Pictures and Strange Fruit
Every year, Art Fair PH brings art, the artists, and the audience into one space; this year, the stage is digital. The event itself is mapped out like a virtual village—they’re calling it The Metaverse—made up online art rooms; anyone can come see the selection of artwork from 43 different exhibitors.
Though the fair’s gone digital, there are still opportunities to get to see some fantastic collections the old-fashioned way: up close and personal.
In fact, over at Chino Roces Ave. in Makati City, one gallery has blown up their works up on giant tarpaulin displays.
Artist-run gallery Tarzeer Pictures’ selection is hanging along the exterior of their gallery’s building, for anyone passing by to see.
Left: Regine David’s “Maynila”; Right: Renzo Navarro’s “A Constellation for the Things I Hate”
They call the exhibit “TARP,” a series of eight works by Rob Frogoso, Ralph Mendoza, Regine David, Jed Gregorio, John Eric Bico, Renzo Navarro, Enzo Razon, and Gio Panlillio.
“We’re always interested in looking for different ways to show photography,” says Gio Panlilio, co-founder and photo editor of Tarzeer Pictures.
“It’s been a while since we had a real show… almost two years since we’ve actually used our gallery. It’s been difficult to reason having people in close spaces but we’ve been itching to show work. We tried to think of the best way to do it and we came up with this public installation outside the gallery.”
“Our gallery is in Chino Roces, which is a busy road… you have other galleries, restaurants, call centers," Gio added. "There’s all sorts of people who pass through this road. There’s really no one in mind specifically that I’m hoping to have see our work, but I hope people stop to look… and ask: What is this? What’s it for?”
Meanwhile, over in Shutterspace Studios, the Filipino photographer collective Strange Fruit has transformed the studio into a gallery for private viewings in small groups.
“We went through the trouble of printing the work because we want people to experience print,” Jason Quibilan, the founder of Shutterspace Studios, says. “For us, as a collective [without a gallery], we don’t have a ready space and it takes a lot of effort to mount something like this. But still we wanted the prints, even if we’re exploring the digital space.”
Established in 2020, Strange Fruit’s mission is to champion photography as an artistic medium; they’re made up industry veterans, the likes of Raena Abella, Jes Aznar, E.S.L. Chen, Jason Quibilan, Veejay Villafranca, and GRID’s own executive editor, Paco Guerrero.
"Engagement with the audience is a bit of a challenge this year, to be honest. Last year, with an actual a booth, we got to spend time with our audience,” says Veejay Villafranca, one of the photographers of Strange Fruit.
“But on the flipside, going on a digital platform, there’s more access… anyone from all over the world can access [our work]. I think what Art Fair is trying to do this year is very important.”
Left: From Jes Aznar’s Soltada I, a part of his ongoing study of the bloodsport in the Philippine context.
Right: From Raena Abella’s STILL II, where she features the haunting beauty of the sea, one of her favorite subjects.
This year’s is the first online edition of Art Fair since the event was launched, and a spotlight is definitely on digital art. The event proper, which runs from May 6-15, is a lot more than just a giant communal online viewing: The organizers have put together a fantastic lineup of talks, workshops, and tours; it’s as close to a walk through Art Fair as we can realistically get.
“To see Art Fair embrace the digital space so completely, it’s honestly a beautiful thing. I can only hope next year we get to have a bit of both,” Gio says.