VIP2.0, the second outing of the online-only VIP Art Fair, will open to the public on February 3 at 8 a.m. on the dot. Supported by extra server space to combat last year’s loading problems, the site — founded in 2011 by dealers Jane and James Cohan and entrepreneurs Jonas and Alessandra Almgren — will welcome virtual visitors to a freshly redesigned viewing area where they will be able to peruse displays from over 100 galleries with just the click of a mouse, all from the comfort of their laptops.
It is this accessibility that makes VIP so attractive in theory to first-time buyers and armchair collectors, but the fair’s new programming and enhanced interaction opportunities could make this year’s outing a must-see for art-world heavies as well. While BLOUIN ARTINFO has not yet been able to try out the new interactive interface, VIP's founders say the improved technology should help to solve the fair's past glitches. Beyond shoring up its design, the fair has also added a series of videos that give dealers a chance to show off the personality of their galleries and “Insider Tours” that let visitors explore the fair through the eyes of well-known curators and directors — add-ons that should bring VIP even more in line with physical art fairs like the Armory Show, which have extensive auxiliary programming. The founders have also recently launched three sister fairs.
Over the coming week, VIP will release a glossy series of “Discussion” clips presenting interviews with gallerists about their spaces and what they plan to bring to the fair. Leo Koenig says that he will be showing a highly curated booth at VIP mixing from both older and emerging artists, including a selection of monotypes by Nicole Eisenman. The Cohan gallery will bring concrete sculptures exploring urban archaeology by Ruben Ochoa as well as a new work from British-Nigerian artist Yinka Shonibare, previewing an upcoming solo show by the artist. Vito Acconci’s “Stretched Façade,” an interactive sculpture of a human face that includes a cozy seating space, will also be featured.
The French-Austrian Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac has announced that it has created "a special program” for its 2012 VIP booth featuring seven solo exhibitions that will rotate over the course of the fair, ending on February 8. On the opening day of the fair, the gallery will host the debut of a 24-hour live performance by Terence Koh called “Lightning Striking at Both Ends of a Thought.” Following Koh will be consecutive presentations by artists including Raqib Shaw, Alex Katz, and Robert Longo.
The fair’s new “Insider Tours” feature will guide visitors through a selection of works at various galleries chosen by a group of high-profile curators, including Tate Liverpool’s Gavin Delahunty, the Asia Society’s Melissa Chiu, Whitechapel Gallery’s Daniel Herrmann, Alban de Pury of Phillips de Pury auction house, and collector Dennis Scholl. The curators will have the ability to write commentary that will be displayed to the right of each featured work.
Whether the new technology allows a better overall user experience for the crowds waiting to explore these new features is a question that will have to wait until February 3.