Thu, May 04, 2006 - Page 15 News List

Show me the money

Art Taipei 2006 opens its doors for business tomorrow. Last year's fair rang up US$3.2 million in sales


A shot from Huang Chih-yang's I Am Cute Germs video.


Art fairs are mostly business affairs. No high-falutin high-brow theories, abstract mumbo-jumbo, just the straightforward buying and selling of goods; in this case, art. These types of events are springing up in major cities around the world and are proving to be highly lucrative and fashionable. Demand is so great that some galleries can't supply enough art for eager collectors.

Art Taipei 2006 (台北國際藝術博覽會執行委員會), organized by the Art Galleries Association (AGA), will open its doors for business at Huashan Cultural and Creative Industry Center (華山藝文專用區) from tomorrow through Tuesday. The 32,000-square meter space is currently run by the Executive Yuan's Council for Cultural Affairs.

Begun in 1992 as a local exhibition for AGA members, the Taipei Art Fair became international in 1995. The exhibition was closed in 1999 after Taiwan's devastating earthquake of Sept. 21 that year, and, as a result of SARS in 2002, the fair was not organized again until 2005.

In collaboration with the government, AGA resurrected the fair last year with the new name Art Taipei, which rang up US$3.2 million in sales.

According to the organizers, local galleries have been key contributors to the Chinese art market. The island's sound economic system and democratic structures make Taiwan a favorable place to market Asian art.

Taiwan's art community is small, and fueled by a core of devoted and passionate practitioners that include scholars, professors, curators, artists, writers and a growing rank of collectors. Many of Taiwan's collectors foresaw emerging market trends and started replacing Japanese buyers in the auction market.

TV personality Kevin Tsai (蔡康永) is an avid collector of Asian contemporary art. His collaboration with artist Cai Guo-qiang (蔡國強) selling the artist's works on a TV shopping channel sparked interest in collecting art among sections of the public.

The Council for Cultural Affairs sponsored the Asia Live section of the fair which will focus on contemporary art and new trends in Asia.

The theme for Asia Live is New Figure, New Art and will exhibit work from galleries and artists that focuses on the body in relation to biotechnological evolution and metamorphosis, or transcends stereotypes of the body. Australian-based artist Patricia Piccinini has been named artist of the year for this part of the art fair as her figurative sculptures exemplify Asia Live's theme.

Additionally, the Ela-Asia (Electronic Arts Asia) section will show how Taiwan is rapidly transforming into a digital art center.

Most universities in Taiwan now teach courses on new media and are training new generations of digital artists, while high-tech companies such as Acer and Yageo regularly sponsor digital art exhibitions. Co-organized by the team who put together DiVA, a digital and video art fair that took place last month in New York, Ela-Asia will focus on new media art, video art, photography and film.

Artist Huang Chih-yang (黃致陽) will debut his video I Am Cute Germs, which was filmed through a microscope.

Exhibiting galleries at the fair include: Art Beatus (Hong Kong); Dimensions Art Center (Taipei, Beijing); Chi-Wen Gallery (Taipei); Goethe Art Center (Taichung, Taipei); Lin & Keng Gallery (Taipei); Nature Morte (New Dehli); Thavibu Gallery (Bangkok) and Yeh Gallery (Seoul).

The art fair is not all commerce though. There will be some information gathering conducted by the Asia Art Archive which invites attendees to bring their Asian arts-related materials to their Scan Taipei booth to be scanned, donated or photocopied for its huge public-access archive in Hong Kong.

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