“Art fairs have grown a lot over the last few decades,” says Barry Keldoulis, director of Sydney Contemporary. “I remember when I first took an artist to an art fair in the early 2000s, they were kind of horrified that their babies were being shown in that ‘meat market’.”

It’s fair to say that Sydney Contemporary isn’t a ‘meat market’ – it’s less a trade fair and more a celebration of the arts community, including talks, performances and massive installations. From September 8-11 at Carriageworks, galleries have the chance to show their work not only to serious art collectors and institutional curators, but also to thousands of members of the public. “That’s the nature of the fair – most good work still has to be seen in the flesh to be appreciated,” says Keldoulis.

You’ll find a range of mediums represented, like painting, photography and sculpture, whether you’re looking to buy or not. “You see work not just from your city, but from across the country and abroad, and you can get a feel for the trends,” says Keldoulis. In recent years, for example, he says there has been a noticeable “surge” in the popularity of ceramics.

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With more than 90 galleries and 450 artists to browse, in addition to a well-filled interactive program, there is plenty to immerse yourself in. We asked Keldoulis to give us his guide to the fair.

NFTs and the Unsolved Mysteries of Art Theft

For a discussion of hot topics in the contemporary art world, visit Talk Contemporary. “The buzzword for the past two years has been NFT, and we have a talk called ‘NFT: Fizzle or Sizzle? Said Keldoulis. He examines the potential for flourishing on the artistic expression side of the equation now that speculative investing is less publicized in the wake of the recent cryptocurrency crash.

Other lectures include Hungry Eyes, which examines the current state of collecting and speculates on the future directions of print, artists’ book and zine collections – especially in the era of digital consumption of mass, and Unsolved Art Thefts: A Journey Through the Mystery and Complexities of Art Crime, which delves into the dark world of art theft.

The art of paper on a budget
Paper is a section of Sydney Contemporary that showcases art using the material via drawings, watercolours, limited edition prints, artist books and zines, as well as being a starting point for budding buyers to looking for lower prices. “Paper is almost like a fair within a fair,” says Keldoulis. “We have over twenty printmakers and galleries working with works on paper, and a series of lectures and demonstrations.” The series will include demonstrations of 16th-century Japanese woodblock printing techniques, letterpress printing on a vintage 1950s printing press, and a series of workshops by the live and experimental printmaking performance collective Performprint, which will be on site to present the rhetoric of spoken word engraving. , skateboard wheel printing and engraving stunts.

Emerging Artists at Future
There’s no shortage of stunning works by established artists, but Sydney Contemporary makes it a point to create a space for those just starting out too.

“The Future sector is made up of young galleries, often representing emerging artists,” says Keldoulis. Highlights include first-time exhibitor Mangkaja Arts showcasing emerging Aboriginal artists from four art centers in the Kimberley region, and Michael Bugelli, a rising young gallerist from Hobart.

There will also be Jacob Hoerner Galleries showcasing Rebecca Agnew’s new HDV stop motion animation work titled infinite west, and Onespace Gallery will present two First Nations artists, Elisa Jane Carmichael and Teho Ropeyarn. Carmichael offers a fine collection of cyanotypes on cotton, incorporating elements of his saltwater country using shells, sand, saltwater and hand-woven elements, while Ropeyarn is an engraver who draws from the sky, land and sea of ​​his country in the northernmost part of Queensland to create large-scale works.

Very Hairy Facilities
Sydney Contemporary’s installations – known this year as Amplify – offer the opportunity to see art on a grand scale. “It’s an opportunity for the artist to show their ability to work on a scale that would be appropriate for a corporate collection or an institution,” says Keldoulis.

“There’s a wonderful and quite enormous installation by Kathy Temin of a sort of forest of white faux fur. There’s a beautiful paper moon – a two and a half meter diameter moon by Sean Cordeiro and Claire Healy that’s made from Japanese manga.

Performance art at sunset
“Not many salons offer performance as part of their offerings,” Keldoulis says. “Partly because most fairs are very commercial in their orientation and performance art is not considered to have a commercial aspect. We see Sydney Contemporary as a whole scene affair.

Championing performance art, Sydney Contemporary features works by artists such as Weizen Ho, who will perform at Sunset on Thursdays and Fridays, and Rakini Devi. “She examines through Eastern and Western traditions how the human body is sanctified,” Keldoulis says.

See more details and book tickets. Sydney Contemporary is offering Broadsheet readers a special 20% discount on tickets for Opening Night, Friday Night, Adults and Concessions.

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