When the pandemic hit and shut down the art world in the spring of 2020, right on the heels of the Armory Show here in New York, there was a silver lining of hope that emerged during those dark days that collectively, we might actually take this moment of reset to reconsider the foundational assumptions we held about the structure and functioning of this industry. Even prior to the lockdowns, many galleries were feeling the weariness of the global art fair hustle, while fighting to balance the economics of ever increasing rents, the relentless demands for growth, and the myriad transformations of virtual selling; eighteen months of upended life further tested them all, large and small alike, and not all have survived. And while a “back-to-normal” feeling is beginning to be felt more broadly now that the virus is waning (at least in some places around the world), the initial innovative impetus to change things in the art world brought on by the pandemic hopefully won’t be lost in the shuffle.
One example of the possibilities of fresh art world experimentation can be discovered in the new Future Fair. Founded during the pandemic, the Future Fair comes with a revamped and more participatory art fair model, where partner galleries have more transparent insight into how their money is spent, and are included in a cooperative profit-sharing plan that benefits them all. For the galleries fighting to get into the “top” fairs who are then rewarded (if they get in) with untenable economics (given the imbalance between the high costs of the fair and the relatively lower prices of the artworks the galleries are selling), such a new model has the potential to be much more workable.
The Future Fair is an intimate contemporary art fair (with a global gallery base), and so almost by definition these days, only has a small sprinkling of photography on view. But with some methodical digging, we were able to uncover a handful of intriguing photographs (and a few galleries new to us) worth thinking about. As is our custom, the slideshow below gathers together singular photographs found at the fair, starting with the booths near the entrance, and generally wandering our way back toward the cafe and exit. Each image is supported by linked gallery names, artist names, prices (as available), and a short discussion or commentary.