The close of a fair is inevitably met with mixed feelings: the staff manning booths can't wait to get out of their high heels, while gallerists who maybe haven't moved as many works as they had hoped to would prefer a bit more time to swipe credit cards and seal deals. For all the ups and downs of this year (the Dow in NYC has has its worst week since October 2008; our own currency wants to know where it is going and why it is in a handbasket), most involved in the 2011 edition of the FNB Joburg Art Fair agree that the results are more positive than negative.
Art fairs are chiefly about bottom-line thinking, with many galleries having already spent long dollars to get themselves and their work on show before the first patrons trickle through the turnstiles: packaging, shipping and insurance bills quickly mount up, as do the costs of keeping one's staff in cappuccinos and margherita pizzas. If the title plaques don't start bleeding red dots quickly enough, galleries begin to stare down the barrel of considerable losses.
But for all the pressure and hard-sell dressed up as banter, the art fair also provides great opportunities for chatting, catching up, tracking artists' aesthetic shifts, buying books and generally schmoosing. This year an ArtThrob intern, Marc Barben, skulked around the fair unobtrusively on our dime, photographing the work and the people that made the fair memorable. See the results of his labour in this blog.