Attendance at Art Fair Philippines’ four-day festivities hit the 10 thousands this year—a far cry from the three thousand it catered to when it was first launched in 2013. From seasoned collectors chasing their next big buy to savvy, culture-hungry teens looking for something beyond Instagram (or something to Instagram), folks came in droves to the event, which proclaims itself to showcase the best that Philippine contemporary art has to offer.

For the first time, however, the 46 participants on Art Fair’s roster included galleries from Singapore, Jakarta, Hong Kong, and Shanghai. Visitors were treated to all kinds of artwork that transcended and played with form, as well as talks and tours, across four floors of The Link’s carpark and all around the metro.

On the sixth floor was Venice Biennale 2015 representative Jose Tence Ruiz’s Langue Lounge. The piece is a not-so-subtle commentary on the country’s current political climate, particularly the ongoing talks to bring back the death penalty.

More exhibits of note were WSK’s multimedia installation, which created sound with the use of metal sheets, Maria Jeona Zoleta’s neon- and pastel-drenched take on feminist themes, and Secret Fresh’s colorful and chaotic “Secret Room.” Artists Agnes Arellano, Elmer Borlongan, Patricia Perez Eustaquio, Dex Fernandez, Manny Garibay, and Mark Justiniani, among others, were commissioned for Art Fair-specific projects.
Educational talks, free for ticket holders on a first-come, first-served basis, took place throughout the day, with topics such as the publication of art books, art in public spaces, and the international representation of Philippine art. Speakers included Canadian sociologist Dr. Sarah Thornton, Filipino historian and journalist Prof. Ambeth Ocampo, and artist James Nares, whose video installation “Street,” a 61-minute slow-motion montage of activity on a Brooklyn street, was screened nightly at the Ayala Triangle Gardens.

Bigger and bolder? Without a doubt. It’s all in the name of the fair’s efforts to champion the local art scene and make it more accessible. If you missed out, though, not to worry—there’s always next year, and it only promises to be better. – Fiel Estrella

Photos by Andrea Beldua

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