When every exhibitor is allotted a 90cm x 90cm desk at an art photography exhibition and convention, it’s obviously a call to get creative. Last year’s Wonder Foto Day saw many artists turn their square into intricate installations — and one photographer, whose project focused on his parents, actually brought them in to chat with visitors as part of his display.
After a successful debut last year, Wonder Foto Day (台北國際攝影藝術交流展) will return this weekend on a much larger scale, with 100 local and 50 foreign photographers exhibiting their work. There’s also an art book fair and a photography contest judged by 10 professional photographers.
Fang Yen-wen (房彥文), who runs G.Gallery (居藝廊), a small gallery in Taipei, started the event with experienced fellow photographer Ma Li-chun (馬立群) after noticing there was a lack of opportunities for Taiwanese art photographers to exhibit their work and, more importantly, network.
“We’re actually interested in promoting local contemporary art in its entirety, but we thought that photography was the most lacking area in Taiwan,” Fang says. “There are few galleries that focus on photography because, frankly, it doesn’t sell.”
At the same time, Fang says that photography is a good way to pique the general public’s interest in art because of its relatability and accessibility, especially with the proliferation of camera technology.
“A viewer might feel more connected to the artwork because they also take photos,” he says. “They might ask, ‘Can I do that too?’ and start pondering what makes a good photograph, and eventually they’ll want to dig deeper.”
Fang cites education, which focuses on technique instead of creativity, as a reason why there isn’t much of a market for photography. Walk into a bookstore, or visit an online photography community, he says, and most of the material will be “how-to” guides or about camera gear.
What: Wonder Foto Day
When: VIP preview and opening party today from 4pm to 7:30pm, general admission 10am to 6pm tomorrow, 10am to 5pm Sunday
Where: Huashan 1914 Creative Park (華山1914), Warehouse 4B, 1 Bade Rd Sec 1, Taipei City (台北市八德路一段1號)
Admission: NT$250 per day, NT$650 with photo book, NT$799 with opening party tickets
On the Net: www.wonderfoto.com
“Taiwan’s art education does not encourage students to seek possibilities,” he says. “They want them to come up with an answer. But how can one look for an answer in art?”
When the submissions started coming in for last year’s event, Fang says he was almost moved to tears.
“Where have these people been?” he asked. “I think Taiwan’s photographers can be as good as foreign ones. They may lack experience and opportunities, but when I saw their work, I knew that I had to keep the event running.”
A major goal of the event is to provide networking and exposure for photographers. Last year’s Wonder Foto Day did not end with the event itself — photo contest winners saw their works exhibited locally as well as in Shenzhen and Paris. Fang says these opportunities will only increase as the event’s prestige grows.
In addition to major awards, each of the 10 judges will choose a favorite photographer, who will receive an award under his or her name.
“We encourage the judges to provide the photographer of their choice with opportunities to exhibit,” Fang says. “We can’t guarantee anything, but we help them make connections.”
Fang also hopes to attract corporate sponsors who can partner with local photographers. Samsung is already on board, collaborating with Wonder Foto Day on an exhibition that features six Taiwanese artists along with Aoyama Yuki from Japan.
Finally, the exhibitors’ work will be compiled in a yearly book — which is another area that Fang thinks is lacking in Taiwan, hence the inclusion of an art book fair with the exhibit.