PHOTOFAIRS 2020 Year in Review
2020 is undoubtedly a memorable year. Against the backdrop of COVID-19, the art industry—dependent on the global financial and cultural ecosystem—is facing unprecedented challenges.
COVID-19 rocked the foundations of society to its core and this remains true as we continue to navigate through it nearly a year on. The pandemic has also laid bare not only the arts sector’s vulnerability but also its extraordinary resilience. They say that in every crisis lies great opportunity and during these uncertain and unpredictable times, the art industry has experimented, accelerated, and advanced what would have taken years—say, building efficient online infrastructures—in a few months.
As Asia Pacific’s leading destination for discovering and collecting photo-based art, PHOTOFAIRS is committed to its community of artists, collectors and gallerists to help foster new ideas and dialogues within photography. This year, following the cancellation of the seventh edition of the Fair in Shanghai, we launched a series of initiatives including PHOTOFAIRS PRESENTS—an ongoing digital exhibition series—as well as Weekend of Photography (Shanghai and beyond)—a local program of events.
Both initiatives complement our traditional series of Programming at the Fair which features Insights, Spotlight, and Conversations. These new and thoughtful initiatives unite the people working at the forefront of the photography industry, paving the way for the discourse on photography to be an integral part of the city landscape. “These programs have been very collaborative – everyone has wanted to make them the best events possible and to support each other after a difficult period,” says Georgia Griffiths, PHOTOFAIRS Director. “It really feels like our community has come together.”
PHOTOFAIRS PRESENTS, which launched in August, attracted 21 galleries from seven countries. Taking a thematic approach, there have been two exhibitions to date. Both Cyanotype and Exposure Award 2020 showcase the breadth of traditional photographic techniques while examining how artists today are not only reviving these methods but breaking boundaries to create pioneering work.
Through PHOTOFAIRS PRESENTS, we continue our commitment to expand the conversation around photographic arts in Asia and provide a platform for artists working in this medium to engage, present and trade. Participating galleries include Beijing Commune (Beijing), Pékin Fine Art (Beijing, Hong Kong), Galerie Dumonteil (Shanghai, Paris), HdM Gallery (Beijing, Hangzhou, London), Gaotai Contemporary Art Center (Urumqi), Up Gallery (Hsinchu), Tiwani Contemporary (London), Black Box Projects (London), Unit 17 (Vancouver), and Jessica Silverman (San Francisco). Featured artists include Qiusha Ma, Dali Zhang, Hugo Deverchère, Weiyi Hu, Guanyu Xu, Sameer Tawde, Délio Jasse, Adam Jeppesen, Hugh Scott-Douglas and Marisa Kriangwiwat Holmes. With the PHOTOFAIRS website and social media channels as our primary platform, we have had over 130,000 page views with visitors from China, United States, United Kingdom, Belgium, Netherlands, Germany, Japan, Canada and more.
Weekend of Photography opened in September and comprised a program of photography exhibitions and events in Shanghai and other cities in China. Bringing together approximately 30 galleries, museums and arts organizations, as well as highlighting more than 30 exhibitions, screenings, talks and workshops, this initiative contributed to the recovery of the local market and became a pioneering force for connecting artists and audiences during COVID-19.
Key exhibitions and events included Alec Soth: The Space Between Us at the Shanghai Centre of Photography, Candida Höfer: Enlightened Spaces at Matthew Liu Fine Arts, and Somewhere in the Past at AroundSpace, a group exhibition of predominantly black-and-white works by contemporary photographers Liang Ma, Jeff Chien-Hsing Liao, Taca, Wensheng Dong, Yanpeng Lu, and Yuanmin Lu. In addition, PHOTOFAIRS partnered with OCAT Shanghai, and presented One Place After Another, a screening event, which featured 10 new video works by artists including Xinhao Cheng (Tabula Rasa Gallery), Yuanyuan Yang (AIKE), Bingyi Feng (A Thousand Plateaus Art Space) and Yue Liang (ShanghART Gallery).
Commenting on being a part of Weekend of Photography, Karen Smith, Artistic Director of Shanghai Center of Photography, says: “Since launching SCoP in 2015, we have been aware of the importance of synergy within our immediate community. In Shanghai that has been the annual PHOTOFAIRS event which helps provide a focal point in the yearly calendar as well as helping to strengthen and widen our circle of friends. It was great to have an event still take place in this most challenging of years. It was rewarding, too, to find that the community has grown and was so ready and willing to come together to celebrate photography and its champions. The diversity of events that took place over the Weekend of Photography will give us a goal to match next year.”
The seventh edition PHOTOFAIRS Shanghai returns September 23–26, 2021 to the Shanghai Exhibition Center. Until then, we will continue bringing you PHOTOFAIRS PRESENTS, expanding the Weekend of Photography and supporting the local and global art community.