Parallax Art Fair to showcase over 200 exhibitors and 2,000 pieces of art
October 10, 2012 17:20
| Arts and Culture
On October 13-14, the fifth Parallax Art Fair takes place at Chelsea Old Town Hall, showcasing over 200 exhibitors and 2,000 pieces of art. Parallax was conceived and curated by the art historian and theorist Dr Chris Barlow who writes more about the exhibition this weekend.
The art world has changed. A trite statement you may think? But I am not referring to the now worn narrative of economic crunches and art markets, the seeming bust of galleries and cuts to public sector grants. Such crashes and problems, as terrible as they can be, come and go. Revival happens.
What is different this time, is that it has occurred at a moment of cultural crisis in the way we think about art and objects. This has consequences for what the art world will look like and how it will function after the economic crash. In fact, this is a microcosm in a wider context of major societal change. The problem is that how we used to learn and acquire knowledge of things, such as looking at art objects, can no longer be taken for granted. This is the historical context in which Parallax Art Fair
emerged and also its statement as an art object itself.
Unlike other art fairs, and there are many that exhibit dealers, or who are trying to challenge that business format by exhibiting unrepresented artists instead, Parallax is deliberately about the viewer and the politics of presentation; the way that other art fairs continue to select and display objects as art and the interaction of viewers’ preconceptions of those systems.
In this sense, it is also an experience where the viewers partake in a work of performance. Parallax raises the question that the way the current business and aesthetic model functions and carries on is now perhaps outmoded in light of the questions surrounding knowledge acquisition and art objects. This has implications also for the kind of objects that are bought and sold, and the reasons why they are too.
This weekend the fifth edition of the London fair will open at Chelsea Old Town Hall, exhibiting over two hundred artists, including, for the first time, object makers from Syria, Oman, Pakistan, India, Brazil and Nigeria.
The majority of these artists will be representing themselves in a curatorial format that has been described by one US commentator, during the opening of our New York edition earlier this year, as “mosaic”. I happen to believe that the art of curation, at least in an unconscious fashion, is an outmoded practice, despite still being done up and down the country in some of our major museums.
However, the word “mosaic” suggests the hanging practice of the eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Royal Academy exhibitions where paintings lined the walls from top to bottom. There is definitely something about this in Parallax where an attempt is made to “close down” the “personality” of objects. In contrast, anthropomorphic habits, of projecting artists’ personalities into what are inert objects, are often amplified by the modernist “white space”; a practice which can be seen in numberless art presentations in fairs, galleries and museums. This problem is something Parallax attempts to highlight in its own (re)presentation of objects.
There are many intriguing and thought-provoking, as well as beautiful, objects in the fair this weekend; a maze of objects in which the viewers themselves become objects viewed. However, if I could pick out one at random, it would be Alex Dipple’s graphic-like work using copies of the Evening Standard newspaper (pictured).
The patterns in Dipple’s work are determined by the layout of the existing newspaper pages. Creativity becomes structured and random; two contrary ideas existing in one space. There is an attempt at depersonalisation that is, however, contradicted by the artist’s name attached like a marker to the work.
This is perhaps a good metaphor for Parallax Art Fair and a useful description of the experience that viewers can generate of themselves when they visit the space of objects.
Parallax Art Fair, Chelsea Old Town Hall, King's Road, London on Saturday, October 13 and Sunday, October 14, 11am to 5pm.