Photofairs Brings a Wide Range of Contemporary Photography to New York

Delphine Diallo, The Shield, 2023

Delphine Diallo, courtesy of the Diallo and Fisheye Gallery

New York will welcome a new photography fair this week, as the city’s first edition of Photofairs will be held Sept. 8-10, with a VIP preview on Sept. 7, at the Javits Center in Manhattan. 

The contemporary art fair will feature a range of photo-based and digital art from more than 150 artists from around the world, led by industry veteran Helen Toomer.. 

Toomer says she thought she’d “hung her art fair hat up,” but the opportunity to head a photography fair in New York was too exciting to pass on. 

“There hasn’t been a fair that’s been fully dedicated to celebrating photography and new media in New York City,” Toomer says. “It was too much of a beautiful challenge to ignore.” 

The September event is the first in New York, although an edition has been held annually in Shanghai since 2014. The addition of the New York fair is a way to expand the audience to not only those based in the city but also those traveling in from across the globe, especially with the Armory Show coinciding with Photofairs, Toomer says. 

Helen Toomer, director of Photofairs New York

Casey Kelbaugh

“The art world’s eyes are always on New York for the cues as to what’s next in contemporary art, and this fair offers a similar touchstone for the latest practices and ideas across photography and image making,” Toomer says. 

In addition to creating an annual convening in New York for artists, galleries, curators, and collectors in the photography world, Toomer is looking forward to introducing the many forms of photo-based art to a global audience. 

While traditional images might first come to mind when considering photography, the medium is quite expansive—from film installations to collages to black-and-white photographs—and Toomer hopes to shine a spotlight on that diversity. 

The fair won’t shy away from digital works, such as NFTs, either. Though the popularity of NFTs might have waned from its January 2022 peak and the days of high-priced Bored Ape Yacht Club NFTs and CryptoPunks, Toomer still sees them as part of the art ecosystem and worthy of representation. 

“The fair’s going to provide a snapshot of what’s going on right now in real time with regards to how people feel about photography and NFTs,” she says. NFTs “are important in this conversation around image-making and the evolution of photography.”

Additionally, Toomer sees the inclusion of NFTs as a way to introduce its collectors to more traditional art collecting.

“This is also an interesting cross-pollination of collectors because some of the NFT collectors might not necessarily be art collectors, and art collectors might not necessarily be NFT collectors,” she says. “Being able to bring them in all under one roof as well means that we are able to expand our audience and support for our galleries and artists.”

The Javits Center location means Photofairs will be held in the space during the same time as the Armory Show, allowing visitors the convenience to visit both contemporary art fairs. Having the event under the same roof as the Armory Show is “nothing but a compliment,” Toomer says.

Larry Cook, Le Pearl, 2023

Larry Cook, courtesy of Cook and Chela Mitchell Gallery

Though she won’t disclose her favorite artists or pieces that will be featured at the fair, Toomer is excited to be able to provide a platform for a number of artists who haven’t necessarily been in the spotlight before. 

She also hopes to expose a new audience to photography and art collecting who may have previously been intimidated by lack of prior knowledge. 

“Some people have been kind of put off by going into galleries because … they felt like they weren’t able to ask any questions. [The fair] removes that barrier of entry because the galleries are there ultimately to have their works acquired, so they want to talk,” Toomer says. “[The fair is] taking away those boundaries and the opaqueness of it all because it can be daunting. We are, as a fair, a welcoming environment, and that is key.” 

Oh hi there 👋
It’s nice to meet you.

Sign up to receive awesome content in your inbox, everyday.

We don’t spam! Read our [link]privacy policy[/link] for more info.