Viewing in Private is like eating in private: a luxury that leaves you wanting company.
Not early at all on Saturday January 22nd I woke up and followed my heart, again, to an art fair.Well, that's the romanticised version - in the true version, which illustrates the convenience of the world's first online art fair - VIP, I actually drank my dorky Starbucks NYC mug full of green tea whilst wishing it was a latte, checked and/or ignored emails, ate an orange, had a shower and then by mere clicking and typing of my registration details, attended the fair. Also, it was probably a different day here in Malaysia, which we'll ignore.
I gotta admit, I'm writing this late (months late) and had to steal images from friendly (unknowing - sorry not cheating you, figured you wouldnt mind let me know if you do!) sites. Since the fair, a zillion comments have come out about it and not many of them favourable (participating galleries didnt make sales and didnt enjoy the fair, buyers didnt buy I guess, so didnt enjoy the fair) but my verdicts remain unswayed since that first easygoing visit and I will get into them here.
I was eagerly anticipating what 'attending' the fair would indeed involve, and I was not let down - the experience was pure novelty. I surfed my way through. I visited booths whilst wishing it was a real 'in-person' fair where I could spot my version of celebrities, I looked at paintings and zoomed and zoomed whilst wishing for the real thing, and I generally marvelled at new technology wondering why this had not happened earlier as it was no doubt super useful for someone somewhere. It seemed to make so much sense, like online shopping. That is something I dont really enjoy and never do - I do crazy amounts of browsing of online racks, reports and fashion shows but never buy online - but I know plenty others do it and find it handy.
But then the novelty wore off and I decided to take things seriously. I wanted to know more about artists and works... all the information was right there. I wanted to sort the galleries by cities... this didnt really work, only sometimes and sort of - I think there was a glitch. Also, the main menu of galleries kept reverting back to a default so I lost track those I had already visited, very annoying for navigation. I wanted to know the size and scale of things.... there were various silhouettes of 'fair-goers' to choose from which showed the size of the work relative to a 'human' standing in front of it. This totally freaked me out and horrified me, I was surprised you couldnt superimpose a pic of your face and 'be there', but I needed it, so for want of a neautral form of measurement, like a ruler type thing, I went with the plain dude. I wanted to bookmark favourite works - it was a breeze. I accumulated a whole electronic folder full of 'em.
Yep, it was as cold as all that sounds.
Gathering the information and viewing galleries by city, I felt like I was studying for an exam using entirely Wikipedia. And collecting favourite works was fun and worked perfectly well, but I was left wanting. I missed that feeling of knowing where in the labyrinth of a massive warehouse of booths my real favourite works were hiding a mountain of bottled up power ready to explode and make me nearly cry on every revisit. And I missed who and what I might see by accident on the way to visiting them for the third, fourth, fifth times.... That is the beauty of real fairs for viewers like me - the moments in between work when you take it all in for pure joy, when you just about skip from one booth to the next, then on to a lecture, then on to a par-tay.
I loved and still love the idea of the VIP fair because it's one more art fair I can attend, and I get a password and it's all very special. I commend the founders for making it happen, I think we all learned a lot. As a visitor though I can say that for this first one at least the whole activity was one of pronounced detachment. And I dont really see how that would change with the next one, if it happens.
So, this has been another ramble. Please click here to read actual facts on the VIP site.
I'll leave you with this cryptic final note that maybe only I understand:
The Bacon that didnt sell was in my favourites, which means it was no doubt in the favourites of potential buyers. Having it in there was pretty satisfying and it's not like a book you add to cart on Amazon.com... I can understand not going through with the actual purchase, ya know?
What about you, did you 'go' to VIP, the world's first online art fair?