FIAC Satellite Fairs Get Experimental and Selective Under Economic Pressure

FIAC Satellite Fairs Get Experimental and Selective Under Economic Pressure
(Courtesy Show Off)

PARIS — Among the mulitiple satellite fairs and off-site events around Paris's biggest art fair FIAC, three have stood out as especially memorable: Show Off, Slick, and Chic Art Fair. But this year, two of the three fairs have announced drastic changes reflecting new market realities.

Show Off, which began in 2009, is undergoing the most radical transformation. "Show Off is canceled for 2012," exhibitor manager Marlène Breard told ARTINFO France. "But the fair still exists, in a different way. It's changing its format." Although Show Off had 20,000 visitors last year, an impressive turnout compared to FIAC's 70,000, Breard said that galleries were hesitant to make the investment that the fair requires and that the organizers did not want the quality of the event to suffer. "In 2011, even if the fair was good, we felt the first effects of the economic crisis on the market," Breard said. "This year, we are directly affected." Show Off will become smaller and more interactive, turning into "a different Parisian event," Breard said. "It will still happen during FIAC, but it may take the form of an artistic trajectory, in an experimental spirit that is more focused on emerging artists, new media, and accompanied by lectures." It's not yet clear whether the fair will keep this new shape permanently or return to its previous iteration in 2013.

The same kind of experimental spirit is at work in Chic Art Fair's transformation into D: Fair, with a new emphasis on design. With so many contemporary art fairs in the current landscape, D: Fair wants to "create a new niche," director Sandrine Bisognin told ARTINFO France. There will be fewer exhibitors this year, and their wares will be displayed on islands instead of in booths, showing how the works complement each other. Portuguese designer Tony Grilo is using cork as his material of choice. "This will liberate the fair from a structure made entirely of walls," Bisognin said. "The exhibitors will choose the height of the walls of their 'island,' and the entire design will be recyclable."

D: Fair will still have a place for contemporary art with five shows, including "Objet Trou Noir" ("Black Hole Object"), curated by Gaëlle Gabillet and Stéphane Villard, which will show the work of young artists from the Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts and the Ecole Estienne. A design prize will be awarded, and the fair's opening will be held at the new Cité de la Mode et du Design.

While the other fairs are experimenting with new formulas, Slick has changed locations and is putting down deeper roots. Established by Johan Tamer-Morael in 2006, it is trading its tents in front of the Palais de Tokyo for a new space in the heart of Paris's Marais neighborhood. "It's nice to go from a temporary structure to a solid space," co-director Aude de Bourbon-Parme told ARTINFO France. The fair will occupy 16,000 square feet in the Garage Turenne, which hosts the men's shows during French Fashion WeekGalerie Emmanuel Perrotin is a neighbor. Slick has also expanded to Brussels and publishes Slicker magazine, which is distributed free in galleries. For its seventh edition this year, the fair has reduced the number of participating galleries to 40, with half of them from France and the other half international. "The selection is a notch higher," Bourbon-Parme said "Like Liste in Basel, we aren't positioning ourselves as a satellite fair anymore, but as a young fair."

This article also appears on ARTINFO France.