Photography has become more prominent in Taiwan over the past few years. Several galleries devoted to the medium have opened; Taipei Photo, a fair devoted to photography and video, began four years ago; and Art Taipei, Taiwan’s largest art fair, opened a section for photography last year. And now comes 2011 Taiwan Photo, the country’s first art fair devoted exclusively to photography.
This is perhaps unsurprising. A 1981 Cindy Sherman photograph called Untitled sold for US$3.89 million at Christy’s in May. And though one could argue that collectors throwing around this kind of money is proof of an emerging art bubble, there is no doubt that photography is enjoying a renaissance.
Taiwan Photo, which opens on Friday, is located on the sixth floor of Xinyi District’s (信義) Shin Kong Mitsukoshi, Building A11 (新光三越A11館) in Taipei. The exhibition will feature 26 galleries from Taiwan, Germany, France, Japan and the US.
Edward Chiu (邱奕堅), the fair’s chairman and owner of 1839 Little Gallery (1839小藝廊), says that a photography art fair is long overdue.
“Beijing has its own photo fair, as do Singapore and Tokyo. We are born into a photographic world and I felt it was about time Taiwan had a fair of its own,” Chiu told the Taipei Times.
The fair will advance the visibility of Taiwan’s photographic art, he says, and promote exchanges with galleries from around the world specializing in photography.
Vintage photography from Japan and China will be displayed alongside conceptual photography from France, and the exhibition includes works by Julie Blackmon, Edward Weston, Ansel Adams, Daido Moriyama and Ken Kitano.
Photos by emerging Taiwanese photographers will include the collage photography of Isa Ho (何孟娟), black-and-white landscape images by Murphy Chen (陳志宏) and pictures of abandoned buildings by Yang Chin-sheng (楊欽盛).
What: 2011 Taiwan Photo
When: Friday to Monday from 11am to 9pm, closes at 5pm on Monday
Where: Shin Kong Mitsukoshi, Building A11 (新光三越A11館), 6F, 11 Songshou Rd, Taipei City (台北市松壽路11號6樓)
Admission: Entry to the art fair is NT$150, and associated activities are an additional NT$150 per session
On the Net: www.taiwanphotofair.com
British landscape photographer Michael Kenna will hold a book signing session on Saturday from 2pm to 3pm, after which he will deliver a lecture, titled A Life in Photography, from 3:30pm to 5pm.
There will also be a forum for those interested in collecting: Chiu will deliver a talk on Saturday from 1:30pm to 3pm about the history and future of Asia’s photographic art market.
On Sunday from 1:30pm to 3pm, Mark Pearson of Japan’s Zen-Foto Gallery will discuss how collectors can become gallery owners, while H.W. Suan (全會華), chairman of the Taiwan International Visual Arts Center (TIVAC — 台灣國際視覺藝術中心), a gallery specializing in contemporary Asian photography, is scheduled to give a talk on the relationship between photography and the art market.
Admittance to each session costs NT$150.
Breaking with conventional wisdom, which suggests that collectors avoid photography because of its ubiquity, Chiu says people naturally like photography because they have developed an understanding of its visual language that might not be so easily formed with painting or sculpture.
“Families can’t live without cameras,” he says. “People can’t live without pictures. The younger generation grew up with computers and digital cameras and feels comfortable with photography. [And that’s who will] be the collectors of the future.”