1. Sacrifice style for comfort. Wear a cosy pair of shoes, one that wraps itself warmly around your feet. Stilettos or any set of heels beyond an inch will punish your soles.
2. Go alone. It isn’t the most natural thing to do, but I’ve found its more rewarding to visit the Art Fair on your own. Meet friends later, at the collateral events over wine and entrees. If you do happen to go with friends, abandon them once you enter so you can wander around and form an unbiased opinion on each work you see.
3. Do not even attempt to see everything. If you do have the luxury of time, the art fair is best seen over a spread of two or three days. But if you’re a busybody with just a day to spare, don’t even bother trying to soak in everything. After twenty minutes you’ll find yourself unable to respond to anything. Instead, wander through the various galleries and stop at a work that moves you or a piece of art that stirs a reaction within the inner regions of your soul. The secret to enjoying art is the same as the secret to enjoying wine. If you prefer the Cabernet Shiraz, don’t be apologetic about it. You don’t have to love Merlot because you’ve been told its better, though that shouldn’t stop you from trying it out.
4. Look beyond the walls. Some of the most interesting work you might find won’t always be on a wall courtesy a gallery. There’s performance art happening all over the venue and on the fringes of art, whether it’s people walking in with posters around their neck, or statements painted on their clothes, or, people like Zach who I found squatting on the curb selling “Subodh Gupta and Anish Kapoor fakes”. More often than not, they add a depth of meaning to the extravaganza that is the art fair. There’s also a Speaker’s Forum and a Video Lounge, and work being shown at the cafe. So don’t limit yourself to work on display in gallery booths.
5. Make Notes. If you find connections between works that speak to you, if you find trends emerging between artists, or galleries, or on the art scene; make notes. Even if you aren’t an art writer, you must surely have relevant observations to make. And if you feel up to sharing them, you’re welcome to post them here.
Lastly, feel free to talk to the gallerists if you’d like to know more about the work. And if you find yourself muddled by jargon, take a picture of it or make notes and send it across to me as a comment. We can take potshots and deconstruct it for pleasure.