PHOTOGRAPH BY VEEJAY VILLAFRANCA FOR SAVE THE CHILDREN, COURTESY OF ART FAIR PHILIPPINES
Art Fair Philippines is dedicating a new section to photography, and many are inclined to agree that it was about time.
“Through the years, I’ve seen a fast change in the art market’s view on photography and how it fits in the contemporary language,” says Rachel Rillo, a photographer and co-founder of the contemporary art gallery Silverlens. “When Isa [Lorenzo, Rillo’s partner] started Silverlens in 2004, it was driven by a lack of representation, appreciation, and venues for showing photography,” she continues. “By 2006, we had built our first standalone gallery that showcased photography. But slowly, other artists who were not necessarily photographers wanted to show interesting work that used photography as their medium.”
Search/Light, by Frank Callaghan. COURTESY OF SILVERLENS
Now, Rillo says, people are no longer inclined to separate photography from other art forms or media, and are more open to experiencing and collecting photography. “This shift, or inclusive move, was the catalyst that led both artists and the local art audience to the concept that contemporary art is less about media and more about ideas,” Rillo offers.
Neal Oshima. COURTESY OF ART FAIR PHILIPPINES
Echoing that sentiment is Art Fair Philippines’ introduction of a new section, the ArtFairPH/Photo, presented by Swiss private bank Julius Baer. Esteemed photographer Neal Oshima presents “Kin,” a series of new photographs that serves as a tribute to the people and traditions of Philippine tribes in Bukidnon, Batanes, and Cotabato. With curator Angel Velasco Shaw, Oshima also puts together “Provocations,” a show with contributions from contemporary photographers including Paco Guerrero, Geloy Concepcion, Nana Buxani, and Kawayan de Guia, among others.
Photograph by Paco Guerrero. COURTESY OF ART FAIR PHILIPPINES
Photograph by Kawayan de Guia. COURTESY OF ART FAIR PHILIPPINES
Many of the images are culled from recent photojournalistic assignments, while others, such as those of the Filipino-Catalan photographer Eduardo Masferre, were taken between the 1930s and the 1950s, offering a contrast between photography—and subjects’ ways of life—of then and now. Says Lisa Ongpin Periquet, co-founder of Art Fair Philippines, “With the interesting selection and body of works that are presented in the inaugural year of ArtFairPH/Photo, we are excited to see how photography will continue to find its place in our local art scene.”