travelogue - ARTHK10


ARTHK & Vinexpo Asia Pacific together in Hongkong last week

ARTHK is a rare event open to the public in the city that still has the international mix in terms of ambience & audience after the former british colony has returned to China. Since its debut in 2008, the event has readily emerged from various art fairs around the world and become an important event in the calendar of the art world thanks to the growing wealth of the asian (mainly chinese) buyers and art collectors in the region.

The followings are some of my observations being the 1st time attending the event physcially -

1. There's not enough space, or maybe too many people - 

At the preview night, it is simply impossible to navigate as the 'not-so-wide' passages between booths are flooded with people. And from the comments of many local visitors to the fair throughout the weekend, ARTHK needs to get more space next year if they are growing bigger & bigger. The organiser may think that the compact layout could create a sense of market-place with crowded buyers, but they should not forget that it is Asia here, which 'speed and efficiency' are regarded as king as well. If people are consistently obstructed by other visitors when viewing the art pieces or find the space too suffocating to walk through, they may not return next year.

Singapore's own art fair is rumoured to debut next year, it is quite obvious that they would provide a more relaxed atmosphere if ARTHK continues to perform as such.

2. Damien Hirst & Julian Opie are everywhere that you can't possibly escape from seeing a few of their works - 

This re-affirms their 'super-star' status and at the same time demonstrates that once again in the young asian market many buyers are still looking for brands rather than substance. I'm not saying Damien's or Julian's works are all bad, but in a prominent fair facing their potential clients directly face-to-face, isn't that a better way to present some of your gallery's new talents than showing something everyone has known already and available everywhere as well? Perhaps there is some sort of sales tactics there which I don't know too much, or are they just trying to get some quick cash by providing more best-selling products to the consumers? 

3. Quite a number of galleries from London have made themselves there -

'Some Days Aren't the Same' by Sarah Bridgland at the Man&Eve booth

In fact, over 150 galleries from 29 countries are in the exhibition hall. For the London galleries, big names such as Gagosian, Lisson, White Cube, Other Criteria and Hauser & Wirth are all well-stocked with full range of collections. Man & Eve, Pilar Corrias, Rokeby and Paradise Row have made it to the Art Future Galleries category which are a collection of 16 young art galleries featuring up & coming artists.

4. Special commissions and events are scatter around the venue -

Installation to the ceiling

Yoshitomo Nara's works by Marianne Boesky Gallery

Hongkong i-phone orchestra performance led by artist Samson Young & Keitai Girl performance "Hong Kong Wonderland" directed by Noriko Yamaguchi - video link

5. Off-site events and satellite shows are everywhere in the city as well, below are a few just to name -

'Angel with a mission' - solo show by Guangci 瞿廣慈香港個展《飛天使者》

Full photo set here

'Hope & Glory' - curated by Simon Birch

Full photo set here

A collaboration of Acconci studio & Ai wei wei, installation at Para/Site - video link

6. It seems the organiser has not really engaged in social networking on its own to promote the fair -

While almost a dozen of official partners listed on all propaganda materials of the fair are media entities, it is a stark contrast to see the buzz created on paper & screens by these enthusiastic partners and the 42 tweets generated by the official twitter throughout 3 months! Perhaps the difference is due to limited resources, and it seems to be a common problem - Art Basel's official twitter has only 41 tweets from debut till now! Another weird twitter practice for ARTHK is they change to another account this year! it's @ARTHK last year, and @ARTHK10 this year. Why?!

7. Finally, anyone knows who is the campaign creator for this year's propaganda? This neon-sign visual is just so hongkong & cool!!

Some of our favourites -

by Lionel Bawden at Grantpirrie's booth

A moving installation (grateful if anyone can provide details of this piece) - video link

'Sweet Valentine' by Jeon Joonho

'Dao Gives Birth to One' by Hung Keung, one of the winners of the Hong Kong Contemporary Art Biennial Awards 2009 「道生一」- 洪強, 「香港當代藝術雙年獎 2009」得獎作品

Full photo set here

Further Readings -
10 Things to See during ArtHK by Alexandra Seno for Wall Street Journal, 20.05.2010
The Next Basel?: High Hopes Crackle at ArtHK's Vernissage by Sarah Douglas for, 27.05.2010
Art Sales: sleeping giant awakes in the East by Colin Gleadell for the Telegraph, 25.05.2010
Two women reshapes hongkong's art scene by Gareth Harris for, 29.05.2010
Interview with ARTHK's Director Magnus Renfrew by Tamara de Guzman for Asia Tatler, 26.05.2010 (video)
ARTHK10's official twitter