Words: Rose of Sharon Leake
Maintaining relevance in this unprecedented time of social isolation and COVID-19 lockdown has seen the digital sphere boom as we Skype, Facetime and Zoom our way through daily life. It comes as no surprise then that Auckland Art Fair has announced it will be taking its annual fair online. Their new Virtual Art Fair will run from Thursday 30 April to Sunday 17 May and allow ‘visitors’ to discover more than 30 galleries from New Zealand and Australia presenting works intended for display at the 2020 Auckland Art Fair.
“This Virtual Art Fair is in recognition of the artists who have already made special works for the Art Fair that couldn’t happen,” say fair organisers, “and the galleries who have supported them in doing so. It comes at a time of global uncertainty, when the importance of art, community and culture are especially apparent.”
Access to the virtual fair will be free, with visitors being asked to register before entering. Each gallery will have a unique page, featuring images of up to 15 works for sale. Clicking on a work of art will expand the image and show details of the work, including the artist’s name, title, date, media, dimensions and price. There will be a More Info button, which takes the viewer to a page with more information about the artist and their works, and an Enquire Now button, that opens an email to the gallery, with the artists name and title of the work in the subject field.
Auckland Art Fair is not alone in the list of galleries, events and fairs that have turned to digital platforms in attempts to maintain public visibility and relevance. Sydney Biennale NIRIN worked with its long-time partners Google to present viewers with virtual exhibition walk-throughs and interactive Q+A’s while commercial galleries throughout Australia and New Zealand have setup virtual stockrooms in efforts to keep their visitors engaged with their collections.
“It is a celebration,” Auckland Art Fair organisers say, “- as best we can – of the talent and diversity of art making by artists from our region – across New Zealand and Australia, but also around the wider Pacific-rim. We hope that, wherever possible, some of these artists and galleries will be supported by someone buying a work of art.”
In these surreal times Auckland’s Virtual Art Fair is aimed at supporting its galleries and artists as well as wider contemporary culture by enabling people to browse, enquire and consider works of art from the comfort of their bedroom.
Auckland’s Virtual Art Fair opens Thursday 30 April at 11am NZST.
Image: 2019 Auckland Art Fair, photograph courtesy Josef Scott