Cyber Creative: Art Fair Philippines Dives Into The 'Metaverse' For Its 2021 Staging - Arts & Culture

The annual artistic platform explores everything virtual this year through online viewing rooms and talks.

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Much of 2020 was spent online through video calls, digital entertainment, and cyber gatherings, and this increased digitization of our day-to-day lives is expected to accelerate. Art Fair Philippines calls this virtual shared space and alternate reality the “Metaverse,” and will be the playground for this year’s staging.

From May 6 to 15, Art Fair Philippines is going fully digital for the first time on, and access will be free for everyone. Forty-three exhibitors will showcase artworks through their online viewing rooms, which will include videos produced in collaboration with Globe Studios.

This year’s Philippine exhibitors include: 1335 Mabini; A3 Arndt Art Agency; Altro Mondo Gallery; Archivo 1984; Art Cube, Art Elaan; Art Underground; Art Verite Gallery; art/n23; Artery Art Space; Avellana Art Gallery; bio|trans|forms; CANVAS; District Gallery; Galerie Roberto; Galerie Stephanie; J Studio; J StudioHQ; Kaida Contemporary; León Gallery; Lotus Asian Art; Metro Gallery; Mono8 Gallery; Orange Project; Pinaglabanan Gallery; Qube Gallery; Salcedo Private View; Secret Fresh; Shutterspace Studios; Silverlens; Tarzeer Pictures; The Crucible Gallery; Thomas Epperson Photographs; Ysobel Art Gallery.

Exhibitors from outside the country include Art Agenda S.E.A., Art Porters Gallery, and Gajah Gallery (Singapore); Galeria Mayoral (Spain); Gallery Kogure and Kobayashi Gallery (Japan); La Lanta Gallery (Thailand); Primo Marella Gallery (Italy); and Yavuz Gallery (Singapore and Australia).

Creative Non-tangibles

For its first online edition, the fair will feature digital art.

Recently, Non-Fungible Tokens or NFTs have been making headlines all over the world. Art Fair Philippines 2021 will take you from understanding the crypto basics, to buying an NFT, and meeting artists and gallerists that are embedded within the crypto art community.

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

Art Fair Philippines will also debut digital artworks specially commissioned for ArtFairPH/Film. This section of the fair is developed in partnership with Daata, a digital platform that commissions original digital artworks by established and emerging artists, allowing viewers to stream or download high-quality digital artwork on any device.

ArtFairPH/Film is done in partnership with the digital platform Daata

Among the digital artworks showcased are by new media and contemporary artists Jeremy Couillard and Petra Cortright, and Keiken, a collaborative practice co-founded by artists Tanya Cruz, Hana Omori, and Isabel Ramos.

Rounding up this year’s digital art focus is a special presentation of the six winners of the Julius Baer Next Generation Art Prize. 

As a strong supporter of the arts, Baer recently launched this inaugural competition for Southeast Asian artists, with a focus on the digital image, recognizing it as a medium of the future. Open to Southeast Asian artists from 18 to 40 years old, entries were submitted from November 2020 to February of this year.

It rewards the top three winners in two categories—Still Image and Moving Image—with a total of $60,000 in cash prizes.  

Artist residency

The eight-year-old creative platform also launches a new section this year, ArtFairPH/Residencies. This is an artist residency program project in partnership with Don Papa makers Bleeding Heart Rum Corporation.

Five artists will be selected based on their submitted portfolios and will be paired with art spaces and galleries from different parts of the country. This includes Manila Observatory in Quezon City, Linangan Art Residency in Alfonso, Cavite, Emerging Islands in San Juan, La Union, The Orange Project in Bacolod, Negros Occidental, and Barrio Butanding in Puerto Princesa, Palawan.

Barrio Butanding in Puerto Princesa, Palawan is one of the partners for Art Fair PH Residencies

The resulting works will be presented at Art Fair Philippines 2022.

Widening appreciation

Co-presented by the Swiss private bank Julius Baer, ArtFairPH/Photo is one of the more popular sections of the art fair. For 2021, Paris-based Filipino photographer Ding Panganiban will bring to the fair his ambrotype collodion process of developing photographs taken with a vintage camera and printed on glass.  

In keeping with the fair’s thrust to widen the audience for the visuals arts, ArtFairPH/Talks features daily discussions presented in partnership with the Ateneo Art Gallery, Museum Foundation of the Philippines, and Art Review.

Ding Panganiban’s Ambrotype 2

Launched last year, the series of workshops dubbed Open Studios goes online with a selection of live demonstrations and recorded instructionals. This aims to give fair visitors hands-on experiences in art-making. 

Also in the pipeline are two virtual tours: a look at the singular collection of filmmaker and current Baguio resident Moira Lang, and a studio visit with acclaimed artist Alfredo Equillo. 

Art Fair will also continue the 10 Days of Art initiative, which started in 2018 to create buzz for the art fair beyond the physical confines of its venue. Even as the fair pivots to a digital platform, an installation is planned for Ayala Tower One’s fountain area with live screenings of the selections of ArtFairPH/Film digital artwork.  

An installation is planned for Ayala Tower One for Art Fair PH’s 10 Days of Art

Art Fair Philippines runs from May 6 to 15, 2021. For more information, visit the Art Fair Philippines website, and follow them on Instagram and Facebook.

Banner Photo: “i am image,” by Gina Osterloh, which will be exhibited by Silverlens

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