The Online Photography Fair Doesn’t Totally Suck

07/13/2012 11:15 AM |

Antal Thoma, Snow White, 2010.
  • Courtesy A|B|C ontemporary .
  • Antal Thoma, “Snow White,” 2010.

The VIP Art Fair debuted in January 2011 as the first online-only art fair, and this week, it opened the latest addition to the VIP brand, VIP Photo. This specialized fair is one of four new fairs they’ve rolled out this year including VIP Paper, VIP MFA, and VIP Vernissage to open this fall.

In VIP’s larger fairs, I always found art I liked. That’s been more difficult with these specialized events. By and large, the fair’s slew of middling work is its biggest problem: there’s a glitzy celebrity portrait by Vik Muniz (Rena Bransten Gallery), a boob sticking out from a tower of flowers (Hasted Kraeutler), and a prepubescent girl wearing antlers like angel wings (Jackson Fine Art). And that’s too bad because VIP’s interactive format, which allows for chatting with gallerists and other fair-goers, makes looking at art online pretty fun.

Still, some exhibitors stand out. Aperture Foundation knows how to do photography and fairs, but I wouldn’t expect anything less from a long-standing non-profit devoted to photography. They’re seen frequently at other art fairs, displaying their books and limited-editions, so they’ve got lots of experience. I’m a big fan of their spooky, overexposed Richard Misrach landscape and this elegant, light-filled work by Sarah Palmer.

But as much as I like these works, they’re pretty straightforward landscapes and still-lifes. They don’t excite me the way that good art at other fairs have, which is disappointing.

As for the other exhibitors, the worst has to be A|B|C ontemporary. It’s all pretty derivative, or in the case of Swiss artist Antal Thoma, totally disgusting. [NSFW]

An impromptu poll around the AFC office determined that none of the five people asked could figure out what’s happening to this woman’s abdomen. I think her intestines are spilling out of her chest, and a chicken’s about to eat them. Yick.

So there you go. If the work’s not “yick,” it’s “meh” at VIP Photo. I think I’ll just wait for VIP Vernissage.

VIP Photo runs through August 12th.