The first art fair in China dedicated to photography and cinematography, Photofairs – now in its third year – took place last weekend in Shanghai. Conceived and managed by the World Photography Organisation, the annual expo is showcasing works selected from 50 galleries in 15 countries across the world.
The notion of photography as a collector's item took root in the West some 40 years ago and there has been a surge of interest in the photography market in Asia in recent years. Today, the significance of photography as an art is now recognised on the continent and throughout regional institutions, and private collectors are acquiring top-tier historic and contemporary works. Photofairs Shanghai will play host to a large number of established and potential collectors.
The exhibition ranges from iconic 19th century works, including those of world-famous American documentary photographer Elliott Erwitt and French photographer-filmmaker William Klein, through 20th century masters such as Robert Mapplethorpe and Irving Penn, to contemporary artists including Mona Kuhn, Wim Wenders, Vik Muniz, Candida Höfer and Mario Sorrenti.
The fair is undoubtedly international, yet also focuses on regional developments. Feng Boyi – art director of He Xiangning Art Museum in Shenzhen – heads the sector 'Connected', a showcase of artists in China working with moving images and editioned works presented by galleries such as 1933 Contemporary from Shanghai and Hunsand Space from Beijing. Meanwhile, the sector 'Platform' introduces promising newcomers from Asia, including Indian-American artist Amit Desai, whose work is represented by Hong Kong's The Empty Gallery; while Korean photographer Seihon Cho is represented by Gallery Irritum from Daegu, Korea.
A new sector, 'Insights', focusing on the theme 'New Approaches to Photography Since 2000' and presented in the format of a museum show, features a series of images selected by independent curator Biljana Ciric and Photofairs' artistic director Alexander Montague-Sparey; it features 13 artists, including Peter Beard, Lee Kit, Helmut Newton and Shao Wenhuan.