For the last five years, the Philippine Art Fair has helped make contemporary art more accessible to a wider and younger demographic. This is my second time to attend; the first was back in 2015. Whether you’re a loyal follower or first-timer, here are useful tips.
1. You can get in for free (or a discount).
Standard entrance fee is ₱250 per head. Students can get in for only ₱50, while Makati students can get in for free. Just show your valid school ID. BPI premium cardholders will also get in free when they show their credit card. It’s ₱200 for senior citizens.
2. Go during off-peak hours.
The fair opened yesterday (February 16) and will run until February 19, Sunday, from 10 a.m. – 9 p.m. The best time to go is 10 a.m. to 12 nn, and 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. If you arrive during lunch break and after-office hours, prepare for a long queue at the elevators, ticket lines, and popular art installments. You won’t get that perfect Instagram moment when there are dozens of people squeezing in to get the same shot. Go when there are fewer visitors.
3. Use the stairs.
The Art Fair is located at the 5th to 7th floors of The Link Parking Lot. To get to the other floors, forget the elevator. The lines are always long and the lifts are always full. Add steps to your pedometer by taking the stairs.
4. If you want to see everything, take shifts.
My cousin and I decided to visit every single area and admire every single artwork in the 3-floor exhibit (whew!). By the third hour, there was still so much to see, but we were already tired and our knees, aching. I suggest you start at the 5th to 6th floor first, and then take a break (there’s a café at the 5/F) before covering the 7th floor. If you want to see everything—and I mean every single thing—it will take about four hours.
5. Research before going there.
If you have only an hour to visit the fair, prepare a game plan. Research online for a list of must-see installments and artworks. List down the highlights, such as Secret Fresh’s secret room and Maria Jeona Zoleta’s whimsical walk-through exhibit. Buy a map for ₱10 at the entrance to help you navigate.
6. Read and learn.
Aside from taking #OOTD selfies and photos of artworks that you liked, take time to see the name of the artist, his/her bio, and the brief description of the collection. Instead of tagging the outfit brands you wore in the photo, tag the artist when you upload Instagram photos of their art. Take time to browse their websites or social media accounts. Sure, we may not know the history of contemporary art or what makes a certain brush stroke considered “good technique,” but it wouldn’t hurt to learn more about Manila’s thriving arts culture. The Art Fair also offers free art talks for guests.
7. Don’t expect to see everything you saw on Instagram.
The artworks are selling like hotcakes! I remember taking a photo in front of one painting I liked, and then minutes later it was covered in bubble wrap, ready to be delivered to its new owner. A lot of the artworks are taken down just hours after being displayed, and majority of the paintings have a little red or green dot sticker (a sign that someone already bought it).
8. You can buy something for less than ₱1,000.
Most of the artworks range from five to six digits, but you can purchase a little souvenir for a fresh grad’s budget. Go to the Bench exhibit at the 5/F, National Bookstore stand at the 6/F, and Artbooks.ph at the 7/F for more affordable items like postcards, coffee table books, and art supplies for P100 to ₱1,000. You can purchase the exact same items at the mall, but psychologically you will feel artsier if you bought it at the Art Fair.
The Art Fair Philippines runs from Feb. 16-19, 2017 (10 a.m. to 9 p.m.) at The Link Parking Lot, Ayala Center, Makati.