AIPAD--eclipsed this year by Paris Photo as the largest photography show in the world--intends to retake that title next year with a change in venue and time. Present plans are to move the location to the New York Jacob Javits Atrium (the smaller and more architecturally interesting area adjacent to the larger halls) in mid-March. There will be room for 106 versus the 93 dealers that exhibited this year, and booths will be four feet deeper than at the Hilton.
Given that Paris Photo is maxxed out, AIPAD may again have more dealers exhibiting (and, of course, more actual sales being made). The Atrium is also a more spacious area vertically as well as in square feet than the Hilton, making for a more interesting environment that will all be on one floor.
Contemporary NYC dealer Laurence Miller feels "the move next year to a more open floor plan with larger booth possibilities will have an impact. You just cannot show a lot of contemporary work at the AIPAD show, due to small booths, low walls and low lights. The new venue will make it possible for us, and others, to show large things in a professional way. We also heard many complaints from collectors (and dealers) that the fair is too much a flea market and not enough an 'art fair'"
Those were indeed the criticisms leveled by several dealers that I talked to, who would like to do away with most bins and restrain the number of images up on the walls in some way. They would like the show to take on more of the look and feel of Paris Photo, but at a higher level of dealer and material.
Personally I have mixed feeling on this. In my own bins, I had dozens of images $5,000 to $50,000, hardly low-end material. And many people who start collecting do not start at $10,000 and up levels. Many top collectors also feel that many lower priced images also have a place in the history of photography and in their collections. Would we be discouraging new collectors and a broader view of photo history by placing arbitrary limits on what a dealer (or even HOW a dealer) exhibits in their booth?
Some dealers have also suggested that booths be larger in size and that the number of smaller booths be more limited. Perhaps this move coupled with what appears to be a substantial increase in booth prices in the offing will limit more naturally which dealers exhibit and what they show at AIPAD. It remains to be seen if all of this makes a better photography market long-term.
And, to complicate matters, another controversial location is apparently still under consideration: Christie's Rockefeller Plaza facility. Stay tuned.