FIAC | The Lafayette Sector remains the fair’s most promising

This year in its 44th edition, Paris’ FIAC is almost a museum of absolute masterpieces for both modern and contemporary art lovers. However, for those in the art world who have already attended fairs such as New York’s Armory Show or Art Basel, a similarly-sized fair might come across as slightly repetitive. Very much like its competitors, the FIAC is a supermarket, an upscale one for sure, but one where visitors can hardly discover anything new.

Or can they? Created in 2009, the fair’s Lafayette Sector remains the FIAC’s most interesting. Launched “to build a network of mutual support, dedicated to the great artists and galleries of tomorrow”, the sector offers reasonably priced booths, giving younger galleries a chance to benefit from the fair’s international visibility. Chosen by a selection committee including Palais de Tokyo curator Daria de Beauvais and ICA curator Matt Williams, galleries can participate up to two times.

This year, the Lafayette sector welcomes ten galleries from countries as diverse as Egypt, Kosovo, Colombia and India. Gallerist Prateek Raja, who founded Experimenter in 2009 and who also attended the fair last year, has evoked several of the benefits provided by this younger sector: “visitors are knowledgeable and focused, and the sector allows both collectors and curators to discover younger artists and their practice. In addition, the careful selection of galleries, with the focus on solo shows or duo exhibitions, adds to the section’s diversity, and allows visitors to truly grasp the significance of an artist’s work.”


Experimenter Installation view


This year, Experimenter features works by Ayesha Sultana (born in 1984 and based in Dhaka, Bangladesh), an artist who  is “at a crucial moment in her career. Recently her work was acquired by the Tate Modern” as Raja explains. Sultana, who works with sculpture and drawing, “is one of the foremost practitioners from her generation from South Asia”.

Over at Gypsum (Cairo) —  mostly representing artists born in the 70s and 80s — the gallery is presenting The Everyday Ritual of Solitude Hatching Monkeys, a film by artist Basim Magdy, winner of Deutsche Bank’s “Artist of the Year” award in 2016. Shown alongside photographs by the artist from the series We’re All Victims of Our Own Adopted Fantasies Here, the film explores the “story of a man who flees the sea to avoid death”. Born in 1977, the artist was exhibited at the Jeu de Paume last year.


Basim Magdy — We’re All Victims of Our Own  


Gallery LambdaLambdaLambda (Prishtina) presents works by Tatjana Danneberg and Dardan Zhegrova; “both artists create works that oscillate between the private and the public realm and explore its transitory space in a poetic manner”, in the words of gallery director Isabella Ritter. The gallery, which attended Paris Internationale in 2015 and 2016, where it had known a great success, has decided to step it up a level: the FIAC “is more corporate in its structure and thinking. It’s good to try and see what a young gallery can do within a bigger framework”.


Tatjana Danneberg , Hidden poet (2016) — Gallery LambdaLambdaLambda


Highlights from the sector also include: New York gallery Queer Thoughts, which is presenting works by artist Diamond Stingily (b. 1990) as well as the booth of Instituto de Visión, based in Bogotá, featuring a solo presentation by Colombian artist Felipe Arturo.


Diamond Stingily, “Kaa 1963” (Queer Thoughts). Credit Diamond Stingily/Queer Thoughts, New York



Felipe Arturo. Instituto de Visión