Photo Macau Art Fair debuts in Macao

06 2018 | Issue 27

Text/Jasper Hou

The very first Photo Macau Art Fair has been successfully held in Macao. Positioned as the first art fiesta in Macao focusing on photography and video art, the event attracted artists, art collectors, and art traders from both home and abroad. The art fair’s founder and executive director, Cecilia Ho, stated that the event had been a brand-new exploration. Photo Macau did not display a great number of artworks, but what it had showcased to the audiences are world-class arts. 

Turning Macao into a new media art centre in Asia Pacific

Born in Macao, Ho moved to France for studying arts in earlier years. She was the first Chinese artist who has appeared on the summer exhibition organised by the Royal Academy of Arts in the UK for four consecutive years. As an artist herself, Ho has been experimenting in the field of performance arts, installations, videos and new media. This time, she came back to Macao as an artist and successfully held Photo Macao. “I have been away from Macao for 30 years. I am hoping to build Macao as a new media and art centre in Asia Pacific by showcasing world-class media technologies and art concepts through Photo Macau,” she said. 

The first edition of Photo Macau invited seven galleries from Germany, France, Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macao to exhibit their artworks. “The event has a high-end positioning. Artworks and galleries were selected with careful consideration. There are three exhibition themes to present them. Among them, the ‘Body of Confucius’ was co-created by the City University of Hong Kong and the Tsinghua University. The project took 12 years to complete and it is a video presentation of the Confucius scriptures written two thousand years ago. The video will be the standard showcase of Confucius propriety,” Ho said. 

Providing a dialogue and business platform for participants

Photo Macau is not aiming to promote Macao’s culture. From Ho’s perspective, there are already quite a few communities and organisations that are dedicated to promoting the local culture in Macao. What Ho wants to achieve is to bring world-class galleries, artworks, and new media technologies to Macao through her social network and new media specialty. She is hoping to provide a platform for local artists in Macao to exchange ideas and to inspire each other through Photo Macau, ultimately improving the overall art environment in the city. 

The three-day Photo Macau Art Fair attracted galleries from different regions to exhibit and sell their artworks and appealed to over 5,000 art lovers from all over the world. A number of renowned artists, art collectors, and art traders also participated in the art fair, invited by Ho. Culturegathery from Taiwan, one of the exhibiting galleries, stated that they sold some of their artworks and connected with gallery representatives from Korea and France during Photo Macau. The Taiwan-based gallery was recently invited to both Korea and France for exhibition. This would help artworks from Taiwan enter a grander market. “The buyers at Photo Macau this time are mostly art collectors from Europe, whom have a fairly high understanding of art. This proves that Photo Macau does have a good reputation in the industry,” Ho said. 

Quality builds competence

The organising process of the art fair had been a bumpy journey. According to Ho, the budget for the art fair was a great challenge, because a sufficient funding is key to organising a quality art event. “There are many art events in Southeast Asia. If Macao fails to bring forth quality art fairs, we will lose momentum and lose in the game. We need to ensure quality to secure competence,” Ho said. Photo Macau’s over-ten-million funding came from Ho and the Macao government. As a matter of fact, Ho didn’t expect a return from her investment in Photo Macau. She poured in the money out of the dedication to making a contribution to Macao’s art scene and creating something in the local market. 

Photo Macau’s development relies on participation

Ho is planning to extend the exhibition period in the next Photo Macau Art Fair in order to reserve more time for providing local art lovers with more opportunities to get exposed to world-class artworks. She believes that Photo Macau can be promoted to overseas markets through media coverage and the attending artists. 

While many art lovers flew all the way from overseas to Macao for the art fair, local residents of Macao did not show much passion for it, Ho recalled. “If I am an artist, I would definitely try every possible way to attend international art fairs like Photo Macau. It was a pity that I didn’t see many local artists at the event,” Ho said. From her point of view, more resources should be invested to educate local residents about art and nurture their ability to appreciate artworks, for the city’s participation in art is what truly drives Photo Macau forward.