Photo Shanghai, set to begin this September at the Shanghai Exhibition Center, is the first international art fair dedicated exclusively to photography in Asia-Pacific, bringing together collectors and galleries from around the world. In addition to galleries showcasing vintage and contemporary photographs, the event will host world-class themed exhibitions in partnership with international curators along with a book store and a series of talks that create a global discussion around the subject of photography.
The event is managed by the renowned World Photography Organisation (WPO), a subsidiary of Montgomery, the guys behind ArtBasel and the World Photography Awards.
The organisers also have the support of the World Photographic Academy, a group of about 150 industry experts from around the world, including photographers, curators, gallery owners, editors and photography figureheads from across the globe.
We had some questions for the event management team and Mr. Alexander Montague-Sparey, the fair director, was kind enough to answer.
Alexander Montague Sparey
Alexander is an independent photography expert, curator and advisor. As the youngest director in the history of Christie’s, his tenure saw the London Photographs department reach lead status under his direction in May 2013. In his time with the company he worked with the biggest dealers and collectors in the field and achieved several world auction records. He is noted for creating new auction markets for contemporary photography. Prior to working at Christie’s, Alexander was the curator of the selling exhibitions programme at Phillips. He is also a guest lecturer at the Courtauld Institute and holds a Master’s degree in the History of Art from the University of Oxford.
What prompted you to plan the first edition of Photo Shanghai for 2014? Why not start earlier?
The timing of 2014 is perfect. Last year would have been too soon, next year would have been too late.
How does organizing “Photo Shanghai” in 2014 relate to you past professional experience as Head of Photography at Christie’s? What is your biggest challenge in this planning the event?
The main challenge is the cultural one – but that is also what makes the project so special. We need to teach some of our audience from scratch. The enthusiasm I have seen is compelling and reminds me every day why I chose photography over other fine art forms.
What part does photography play in the new Chinese “cultural revolution” concerning museum / gallery openings, exhibition planning and art dealing?
It is crucial. The Chinese photo gallery scene is growing and people are really starting to pay attention locally. Three Shadows Centre of Photography in Beijing is one of the most arresting places I have ever been to. Not just because of the fact that the building is designed by Ai Wei Wei but because of the curatorial clout of the programme. We don’t even have a place like this in London! M97 in Shanghai, Steven Harris’ gallery is stunning and on a par with some of the most important dealers in New York.
How do art collectors respond to photography events like this one in Europe? What are your hopes for this event in Asia?
We have a lot of VIP collectors flying over especially. We are hosting a Forum for them and a dinner in partnership with our Principal Media Partner, The Wall Street Journal. Collectors are hungry for events at this level and of this scale. There are very few good photography fairs out there.
Tell us what type of audience “Photo Shanghai” appeals to.
The local audience, the Asia Pacific audience, the Europeans, the Americans…it is acquiring an international appeal very fast. We have important collectors from Germany and Sweden for example who have already booked their flights!
Could you name some of the most important photographers and galleries showcased during the fair?
We are lucky to be showing some of the most iconic but also some of the most cutting edge work – from Henri Cartier-Bresson to some of Patrick Demarchelier’s newest works. Leading galleries include CameraWork (Berlin), Flowers (London), A. Galerie (Paris), James Danziger (New York), Fahey Klein (LA), Pekin Fine Art (Beijing) and ShanghArt (Shanghai), to name a few.
When will you disclose more details regarding the fair program?
Keep an eye out on the website, we update it daily!
Photo Shanghai takes place on September 5 – 7 @ Shanghai Exhibition Centre – 1000 Yan’an Zhong Lu, near Weihai Lu, Jingan district | 上海市静安区延安中路1000号, 近威海路
By Andreea Dragut
[Image via Photo Shanghai]