​dream new york is reimagining the art fair for the internet age

London’s Limoncello gallery are taking the art fair online to make it work for small galleries.

by Felix Petty
06 May 2016, 12:12pm

After a particularly dispiriting fair at the end of last year, where they were struggling to simply cover their costs, Rebecca May Marston and Barnie Page of London's Limoncello Gallery decided to take a new approach to the unsustainable overheads of travelling the world to take part in art fairs. They decided simply to email their available works to collectors at the start of a fair, as if they were actually there, and found out they were actually selling work without having to shell out to rent a booth. 

It's an approach that has naturally grown into Dream Fair, which launched at Art Basel Hong Kong this year. "We came up with the idea of bringing several galleries together to do the same thing," Barnie explains. "It runs concurrent with a real life art fair, and has the same basic structure of a fair, but gallery booths are webpages and there is no participation fee. The only costs are those of preparing content."

Jesse Darling, Saint Batman

It's no surprise that it works if you figure in the fact of how hyper-connected we are these days. Instagram and the web are pretty much ready made for such an inherently visual medium as fine art, and how much of the most exciting and novel art is growing out of practices informed by the web. 

It's also true that the art fair system doesn't work for a lot of small galleries, the costs of renting booths and shipping art, hotel rooms and airplane tickets, can run into the many thousands of pounds, which can be a gamble on selling work to cover costs and make money after the artists take their split of sales as well. Often these galleries aren't sitting on large reserves of cash either, so one or two bad fairs in a row can be disastrous.

Plamen Dejanoff, Foundation Requirement (Trifon)

"We wouldn't do art fairs if they weren't worth it," Barnie explains. "But the overheads of participating in an art fair are so massive that profit is an elusive concept at our end of the market. There is so little room for risk-taking and challenge when there's such financial pressure and the gamble of an ambitious presentation has the potential to bankrupt."

The latest iteration of the fair has just launched to coincide with Frieze New York, featuring twelves young galleries from across Europe. From London's Arcadia Missa, who are displaying the beautiful sculptural works of Jesse Darling and Hannah Black, to Paris' Gallerie Allen, who are showing a solo booth of video and wall works by Colin Snapp, and Vienna's Galerie Emanuel Layr's work by Plamen Dejanoff, amongst our highlights.


Gabriele de Santis, Mario Merz


Text Felix Petty

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