With 16,000 visitors, 200 independent exhibitors (from around the world) and often 7000 products on display, Parallax ‘Art’ Fair is the most popular fair of its kind in London today. It is an event for everyone whether you are old or young, black or white, rich or poor, “educated” or not. There are no barriers or expectations about how much you are to know about art/design.
The viewer is sacrosanct. This underlies why you will not find art tours or lectures at the fairs claiming to tell you what art/design is supposed to mean, do or say. We consider all that to be bogus. Nor will you find a “selection procedure” in the way that art events like to claim they promote. We consider “selection” philosophically dubious. Our approach is egalitarian. We think mutual encouragement and education is more helpful and productive. Whether you wish to understand all the ideas behind the fair or not in the way we tell it, does not matter either. What matters is that you take confidence in your own ideas about the art/design that you see on the show. You are very special and so are your ideas.
This unique approach to the idea of an art fair grows out of its original and long-standing association with new ideas in the practice of Art History. Parallax ‘Art’ Fair was conceived by Dr C G Barlow in late 2009, but took shape in early 2011. The first fair took place in July 2011. However, it was originally an exhibition called “Parallax”, which opened in November 2010 in London following two pre-exhibitions. Critical essays were contributed to the catalogue by Dr C G Barlow, Professor Donald Preziosi, Professor Alun Munslow and Dr Paul Gladston. One interpretation of the exhibition was that it attempted in a gallery setting to demonstrate how the discipline of History determines what a viewer assumes about contemporary art and the market. The exhibition also introduced the important phenomenon of “idem sonans”.
The fair continued this research aspect with “lectures” by Donald Preziosi and Alun Munslow in 2011 and 2012. The fair has always been thought of as a type of “idem sonans” (or an art work) in relation to the contemporary art industry and art fairs. When visitors walk through the fair today they often do not realise that they are walking through an art work and that they themselves are part of the show. In 2018, the fair moved to Kensington Town Hall and Dr C G Barlow curated three shows of Setsuko Ono’s work at Asia House, Daiwa Foundation and PAF18. In 2019, he will publish a book on the concept of the fair.
Today the fair is not only the most popular of its kind in London, it is also the largest in the UK and Europe. Many other events in the UK have copied its format since 2011. The fair is free entry and always will be. With boutique editions in New York, Miami and Los Angeles developing, the fair is quietly pioneering ideas that will eventually influence the way we all think about art in the future. We hope that you enjoy being part of this history.