2013.06.06 Thu, by Translated by: 陈婧婧
The Informer – Art Basel & Hong Kong art week

Following the week that was the first edition of Art Basel in Hong Kong, we have much to look back on — though perhaps not as much as we expected. Certainly, the Basel Effect manifested itself in a number of ways. One could detect it in relative absence of kitsch and tat amongst the booths; Randian editors agreed that this year, there was a lot more on show that one would have liked to take home. That said, there was a general sensation (remarked upon by collectors who had come last year, and those that hadn’t) of conservatism, with a diminished sense of discovery in the emerging gallery section (…called, um, Discoveries).

This didn’t do much to keep people downstairs, however. Last year, there were complaints that visitors and collectors were not spending time on the 3rd floor had been rectified to achieve even numbers between the two areas. This could have been thanks to a more spacious and navigable layout, with a diminished number of galleries, more open booths, wider aisles and better organization – or pinned to the moving of the VIP area upstairs. The latter incorporated a smart restaurant with quite poor service, a slick Davidoff lounge (whose Champagne tops our Index for the week, followed closely by White Cube), and an AXA post where were displayed intriguingly damaged works by Ai Weiwei and others.

A memorable soiree on the Jumbo Floating Kingdom

One might speculate that the large numbers of Australians in town this time was something to do with the coming of the first art fair in Sydney this September. Indonesian, Indian and Korean collectors were more of a presence, too. Kate Moss was apparently the only real non-art celeb to have stalked the aisles. Could the rest have been excluded by super-tight VIP lists? It was also firmly stipulated that only 100 media members were to be invited. VIP operations can be expected to remain covert, not least due to the small capacities of Hong Kong’s night spots and the self-contained nature of the Basel machine.

After the extreme low of the Modern Media/K11 post-vernissage party, which did a better job than a black rainstorm of killing the vibe on the opening night, there were some pleasant bun-fights during the week. Osage gave a scenic outdoor dinner; Lisson gallery’s intimate one at Kee Club was probably the best evening spent at that location (where on another night, a stripping transgender performer gravely lowered the tone). There was also a sticky Pet Conspiracy gig in Wanchai courtesy of Galleria Continua. Salon 10 in Soho was generally a good red-eye option. Topping them all in customary fashion was the annual soiree thrown by Yana Peel, which this year was exported from her home to the “Jumbo Floating Kingdom” boat so as to accommodate party-crashers. In what was a memorable trip, guests were floated Skyfall-like across to a mirage of a vessel adorned with light bulbs. Inside, we were privy to a performance by Kalup Linzy, who later retreated into a burlesque side-bar to giggle with Hong Kong’s alpha-gay posse, toting long black feathers.

Guests at the Osage dinner on 24th May

Unfortunately, it seemed he had toned down his act for the occasion, but this was soon forgotten as guests danced energetically to tunes churned out by a threesome of DJs. Energy-highs were concentrated also around Tuesday’s openings in the Pedder building and at the big-hitters on Connaught Road. The mood gravitated from the Chapman Bros’ Bosch-esque killing fields at White Cube to a Murakami wonderland at Perrotin’s new space. Here, hipster looks on some of the guests brought a welcome sartorial ripple to the HK scene. On the subject of style, design featured noticeably this year, from a talk hosted by Swire Group to Spring Workshop’s contrived ambiance and the fair’s VIP Lounge, where islands of low tables in red, yellow and blue echoed MAP Office’s now-viral shot of shipping containers.

(L-R) Jeffrey Deitch, Amy Cappellazzo, Charles Guarino, Rirkrit Tiravanija and Matthew Collings on the Intelligence Squared panel
从左至右:Jeffrey Deitch、Amy Cappellazzo、Charles Guarino、Rirkrit Tiravanija和Matthew Collings在Intelligence Squared辩论会上。

The talks series this year felt much-diminished, though Intelligence Squared had no trouble pulling in a crowd to debate art’s quality (or was it value?) as judged by The Market (final scores post-debate: For: 25%, Against: 73%, Don’t Know: 2%). The Southeast Asian collectors’ talk on Saturday morning went down well. A (repeat) performance scheduled by Para/site was cancelled due to the weather, whilst the Burger Collection/1a Space collaboration in the Cattle Depot venue, “I Think it Rains” — despite its fateful title — was not.

Finally, at a first Asian-Art-Basel fair which proved remarkably devoid of scandal, the grittiest performance came uninvited to Adrian Wong’s Wun Dun Art Bar at the Fringe Club. Guests innocently sipping conceptual cocktails were horrified by scenes unfolding in the decorative fish tanks, in which cute orange frogs were brutally devoured by the baby sharks. Apropos, perhaps, as Art Basel’s shark-infested waters lap the Asian market.

Baby sharks at Wun Dun – but where are the frogs?