Art Fair Philippines 2020 Expands Our Views on Art

  • by The Cartellino Team

Somewhere atop a derelict staircase stands an astronaut. Arms lightly extended and shot at a side profile, the viewer is left to guess whether Emmanuel Santos’s recurring subject in Shadow Earth is measuring his next move or basking in the journey so far. The series of images preceding this one chronicles the wayfarer’s exploits: wading through reef, field, and shanty alike. Ahead and out of frame is a forest we find reflected on the convex glass helmet, around is rubble. Despite the candid setting’s remoteness, the presumably human astronaut wears his impenetrable shell, still.

Cartellino Art Fair Philippines 2020
Installation view of Art Portes
Cartellino Art Fair Philippines 2020
Installation view of Tin-Aw Art Management

No better feeling than this mode of itinerancy, of wandering, was there to accompany—nor sum up—the wonder 30,000-plus fairgoers beheld over the three-day showcase of Art Fair Philippines 2020. With 61 participating galleries, this 8th edition was the trade show’s biggest and most ambitious yet, thrusting into the limelight over 100 works by local and international artists across the four floors and roof deck of Makati City’s The Link.

Cartellino Art Fair Philippines 2020
Carlo Villafuerte, Installation view

It wasn’t just all booth hopping this year, either. Ticketholders were welcome to both sit in Open Studios’ series of workshops as well as watch Films’ curated selection of screenings in celebration of the Philippine cinema centennial. Another new addition was Projects, which complemented the familiar art fair format with immersive reworkings of space without set borders. It was a deliberate move by art consultant Norman Crisologo to prompt a dialogue between the works, depending on where the viewer stands.

Cartellino Art Fair Philippines 2020
Installation view of Load Na Dito Projects
Cartellino Art Fair Philippines 2020
Installation view of Tropical Futures Instititute

Resonant with this was Incubators, which featured creative setups by galleries Giatay, art/n23, Limbo, Loadnadito projects, Project 20, and Signum. Loadnadito held its own unique interactive program throughout the weekend, hosting activities such as collecting ghost stories from passersby to playing a talking game.

Cartellino Art Fair Philippines 2020
Sol LeWitt, Installation view

While it’s generally easy to dismiss an art fair as a more-or-less commercial endeavor, Art Fair Philippines’ efforts as a platform seem to prove otherwise. Setting the tone at the entryways of each floor were English, Filipino, M’ranaw, and Baybayin iterations of Sol LeWitt’s “Wall Drawing #1217” that reads, “These words are written on the wall”; the implications of which were not for LeWitt’s oeuvre to exhaust.

Cartellino Art Fair Philippines 2020
Installation view of HUBLOT x Rodel Tapaya

More than introducing new components, such as ArtistTalks, Open Studios, and even the outright collaborative spaces, embedded in each of the transient panels that made up a booth over Art Fair weekend is a tacit reminder: not of what contemporary art ‘is,’ but what it can be, as well as the myriad forms it takes befitting the times. The result is a visual sensorium that encompasses artworks that range from the political, ecological, moral, and the intersections between.

Art Fair Philippines 2020 ran from February 21 – 23 at The Link, Makati City.

Anchor photo: Installation view of  Association of Pinoy Printmakers