6 Jan

BullshitQ: What do you get from Parallax Art Fair (sic) two months after your last request that they remove you from their mailing list and never contact you again under any circumstances because you will never be interested in what they’re offering, not to mention being implacably opposed to everything they do and stand for?

A: An almost identical email, of course! All that changed was the deadline for the submission of my all-important work samples. In their email of 12th November 2013 it was 6th December, while in the more recent email the deadline has mysteriously moved to 31st January.

Dear Alistair,

I am the director who oversees the largest artist art fair in Europe called Parallax Art Fair. I would like to know if an exhibiting opportunity at the ninth edition of the fair might interest you as an artist. I hope you don’t mind, I got your contact on 123 Soho website.

I do mind very much, that’s why I’ve asked you to remove me from your mailing list at least four times now. Furthermore, you did not get my contact details from the (atrocious) Soho 123 website. Obviously you got them from somewhere, but it wasn’t from there because it’s a vanity pay site I wouldn’t touch with a digital bargepole. Deadline corrected, bogus referrer not corrected, unsubscribe ignored. Says it all, really.

At least they merged my name into the email, tip top macro usage for that personal feeling of one’s genius being discovered online… just like in the deluded fantasies of the people who pay to be on sites like 123 Soho. Actually I do get approaches from galleries and commissioners because of seeing me and my work online, but guess what? None of the legitimate ones ever asked me for money.

I’m pretty certain PAF is not bigger than FIAC, Frieze, or Art Basel. Nor is it likely to be bigger than the genuinely artist-led Sluice Art Fair, or even rum Parallax competitors like The Other Art Fair which I can personally attest is pretty large and well-attended, whatever and however numerous its other flaws may be. Unless– as the poor syntax suggests– it’s the artists who are the largest and not the fair? i.e. it’s an art fair for the largest artists?

The fair takes place at Chelsea Town Hall on the fashionable King’s Road in London 20-22 February 2014 and is open to all media and subject matter. You can see examples of international artists work in the online catalogue as well as in the press section of the website. You can also find a link to the US site too.

See the link above for some of their LOL-worthy “press”. As for “fashionable King’s Road”, what’s with this Austin Powers crap, baby? Will it be a swinging, fab and gear scene? Will Twiggy and Mary Quant be there?

The idea behind the event is to create an opportunity for artists to promote and sell their work, but without expensive booth charges that fairs normally levy. There is no commission taken from your sales and the only charge is a fee to hire display space. You can find further information about sizes and costs on the application form. Parallax AF is professionally curated and all artists are asked to send hanging plans. A marketing company also parts runs the event. [Further marketing links and information redacted.]

Thanks for your time and I look forward to viewing examples of your work.*Applications close on the 6th December 2013*.

All best,
Dr Chris Barlow

Parallax Art Fair

So they “create an opportunity for artists to promote and sell their work, but without expensive booth charges that fairs normally levy”… by charging “a fee to hire display space”? Isn’t this effectively the same thing in all but the most technical, semantic sense? Galleries charge commission on sales (because that’s how reputable galleries make their money, not by charging artists fees) but I’m aware of no reputable art fair that does. So congratulations for not doing what nobody else does anyway. I fear there may be some people daft enough to fall for this kind of slipperiness. In fact I know it already, which is sad. I’m giving you a -100% left hand reduction on the fee; all you need to pay is the +100% right hand supplement. Ridiculous. Bugger off.


  1. Itsorsonkartt 06/01/2014 at 6:35 PM #

    I have never attended this show nor exhibited there .. I may have been put off by the name. Does tha make me shlow?

    Sent from my iPhone

    • Alistair 06/01/2014 at 7:50 PM #

      It makes me think of being paralytic, and laxatives. Possibly a rather unpleasant combination of the two.

  2. Alistair 06/01/2014 at 8:20 PM #

    Silly me, I forget to tell you all how inexpensive PAF’s fees are compared to all those “expensive booth charges” at other fairs… BOO! They all suck! Via the “application form”:
    1 display panel 50cm x 240cm is £89. This is about 2/3 the width of the average domestic door so put your plans for exhibiting a huge Guernica-esque mural on hold for now, OK? How about a nice A3 printout instead?

    Ten display panels for wall space totalling 500cm x 240cm in a booth (I thought they didn’t do expensive booths?) costs £719. Obviously this is the small hire charge of which they spoke. Let’s face it: this IS cheap compared to other things that cost more than £719.

    Alarmingly, these last two are offered under the category of “2-D space”, so expect some Euclidean weirdness when you try to hang your art works from normal three dimensional space in a lower dimension.

    “3-D space” costs between £89 and £445, for those bores among you who are only accustomed to three dimensional reality. They don’t offer 4-D, 5-D or 11-D spaces. Gap in the market, there. They could probably even put multiple artists in the same place simultaneously if they occupied different dimensions.

    Lights are £30 each. I wonder what happens if you don’t pay for lights? Do they come around to blind you and all your visitors in case you receive free photons on your retinas from other artists who’ve paid? Electrical sockets are £35 each.

    I think they’re missing a trick by not charging for oxygen, or door handles, or for having contact with the venue’s floor, but I’m sure they know what they’re doing since the whole thing is “professionally curated.”

  3. Alistair 08/01/2014 at 1:31 PM #

    Aaaaaand I’ve just been spammed by them again, this time with a deadline of 14th February. Barlow also spelled the name of his own art fair incorrectly and made his poor syntax worse by writing “largest artists fair in Europe” (sic), thereby confirming that it’s an art fair for the largest artists. Maybe if I tell him I’m only about 5’11” and not a giant he’ll leave me alone.

  4. Alistair 08/01/2014 at 3:24 PM #

    Reblogged this on Alistair Gentry.

    • Karina Hesketh 13/02/2018 at 11:22 AM #

      I have just been invited to take part in this show, but after reading this have decided against it, seems no one makes any money except the organisers, thanks for confirming everything I feared!



    […] Barlow of Parallax Art Fair has written to me in response to my recent coverage of his venture. I’m also posting my response to […]

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