Since its foundation in 2010, NotFair has operated as a satellite event to the gallery-driven Melbourne Art Fair, offering independent artists access to recognition, remuneration, and critical reception that they may not receive at events driven by institutions. At the core of its programming is the imperative to take risks, and celebrate the experimental.

With a grassroots structure and ethos that has endured over eleven years, NotFair prioritises the experience of exhibiting artists. At the centre of this model is a focus on ensuring that artists can receive a fair portion of profits from any sale of work, and an emphasis on the opportunity that the event provides for artists, audiences, dealers, and collectors to meet and form both social and professional connections.

All exhibiting artists at NotFair are finalists in the two awards attached to the event: the $5,000 non-acquisitive Arkley Award, and the $5,000 non-acquisitive Anne Runhardt Art Award. The Arkley Award, named for Howard Arkley, recognises an outstanding practice in painting and photography, while the Anne Runhardt Art Award nurtures experimental practice deserving of greater public recognition, irrespective of medium.

For many exhibiting artists, the 2021 iteration of NotFair will represent a first foray into the event. Multidisciplinary artist Julie Vinci, for example, brings feminist installation to the event. Plain Cover, 2021, imagines a viscous ‘feminine form’ given structure and bounds by pantyhose, which appear draped across items of domestic furniture in shapes at once both sexualised and strained. As these figures oscillate between the status of seductive subject and abject form, we, as the audience, are implicated in the misogynistic gaze that the work aims to critique. Michael Carney is also a newcomer, showing ceramics such as Rule, 2021, which play along the harmony between opulence and decay. Evoking the baroque intricacy of eighteenth century decorative art and rococo interiors in a sugary pastel palette, Rule gestures, simultaneously, to processes of decomposition. Too much sugar can lead to rot, after all, and Carney’s decadence is one haunted by its own dissolution.

Other artists are returning to NotFair for a second time. Laetitia Olivier-Gargano exhibits sculptural installations in a mode the artist calls ‘hyper-surrealism.’ Here, hanging sculptures in the shape of bento boxes present intricately-rendered miniature foods, old cigarettes, and the ‘insides’ of the artist’s body; they’re both uncannily real, and unsettling in their perfection. Alicia King also returns to the fair for a second time with a series of tactile sculptures examining the intersection between technology, nature, and the sublime. Named for the coordinates of the planet’s largest iron deposits, these works are transfixing in their modulation between the ‘natural’ and the ‘technological.’

As an essential opportunity for artists to come together, to exhibit, and to experiment outside the bounds of traditional art fairs, NotFair continues to present a vibrant alternative to gallery-driven events.

20-30 May 2021
The former Kardinia Church, Chris Gahan Reserve, Melbourne



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