Auckland Art Fair announces plans for 2021

After COVID-19 shakeups, the Virtual Fair is here to stay.

Words: Rose of Sharon Leake

While 2020 has seen dramatic shakeups in the art world, Auckland Art Fair is making plans for a post-COVID-19 globe. Its 2020 fair, originally scheduled for late April, was cancelled as New Zealand shut its doors and entered lockdown mode amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. Organisers North Port Events acted quickly, developing an online platform for a virtual iteration of the much-loved annual fair. With few precedents to inform how the fair might have played out, organisers were pleasantly surprised at the virtual fair’s success.The fair saw NZ $1.6 million art sold during the 18 days that the fair was online, with 17,785 visits by 13,082 individuals who viewed 794,555 web pages.

Starkwhite sold new photographic works by Fiona Pardington, while works by current Walters Prize nominee, Sriwhana Spong sold at Michael Lett. At Ivan Anthony a major sculpture by London-based Francis Upritchard was placed as the Fair opened and Fox Jensen McCrory quickly sold at least three works by Tomislav Nikolic. Newcomers to the Fair Gallery Sally Dan Cuthbert sold a photographic work by Lisa Reihana from her new Project Nomads of the Sea, which is showing in The Biennale of Sydney, and Sumer Gallery sold multiple works by Ann Shelton and Sydney-based New Zealander, Ella Sutherland. Gow Langsford sold a large scale cast bronze and 24 carat gold sculpture by Paul Dibble among other works.

So promising was the virtual Fair that organisers have confirmed they will be holding both a physical and virtual Fair in 2021. A live physical Fair will be held at The Cloud from 24 to 28 February 2021 and a second Virtual Art Fair will take place online from 3 to 14 November 2021.

Fair co-director Stephanie Post notes that, “a Virtual Art Fair will never replace the personal experience of a live Art Fair – we all know that art is best experienced in person and we very much look forward to welcoming galleries, artists, collectors and everyone interested in art, to The Cloud again in February. However, our venture into the virtual realm has shown that the online experience does attract new viewers, and buyers, many of whom had not attended a live fair before but who we hope will do so in the future. We are excited to further develop the possibilities for engaging with new and existing audiences for contemporary art through a second Virtual Art Fair in November 2021.”

While the rest of 2020 (and perhaps beyond) remains uncertain as COVID-19 continues to threaten health and safety worldwide, Auckland Art Fair is remaining strong and paving the way for the commercial arts sector. This announcement comes as a great example of the benefits technology and innovation may bring for the future of artists, galleries and the art world more generally.

For further information please visit the Art Fair website https://artfair.co.nz.

Image: Tomislav Nikolic, Our particles are in motion, 2019. Acrylic polymer, marble dust, 23ct red gold, 76.7 x 100 x 8cm. Courtesy: the artist and Fox Jensen McCrory.

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