Five Years of Art Basel in Hong Kong

You didn’t experience Art Basel in Hong Kong this year if you haven’t seen this – ‘Putto’ by Michael Parekowhai, Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery, Encounters, Art Basel Hong Kong 2017. Courtesy of Art Basel

Since it arrived in 2013, how has the global art fair affected the city’s art scene?

By CJC Fellows

Now in its fifth year, it’s indisputable that when Art Basel arrived in Hong Kong, it put the city on the map as the centre of the contemporary art market in the Asia Pacific region. A significant number of galleries have moved to or expanded their presence in Hong Kong since it started, and attendance figures have grown significantly -– —from 2008, when 20,000 attendees visited Art HK (which was bought out by Art Basel in 2011) to 2016, when 70,000 passed through.

Public ticket sales for last year’s Art Basel fair were much higher than expected, and had to be stopped temporarily as too many people rushed into the fair. Adeline Ooi, Art Basel’s director in Asia, predicts a similar public interest in the fair this year. “Ticket sales have been overwhelming, and we’re expecting a full house”.

Over the last five years, Hong Kong’s art market has developed, thanks to the high-profile event, but less immediately obvious is the real impact Art Basel has had on the local art scene and audience. As an international art fair, Art Basel has helped establish Hong Kong as an arts hub in Asia. It has brought in more art-industry professionals from around the world and has made Hong Kong a regular stop on the international art circuit. On the local level, artists and residents have had more opportunities for international exchange and exposure, thanks to Art Basel’s knock-on effect.

‘Deductive Object’ by Kimsooja, Kukje Gallery/ Tina Kim Gallery, Encounters, Art Basel in Hong Kong 2017. Courtesy of Art Basel

Although Art Basel launched its first edition in 2013, its stake in the local art scene actually began in 2011, when it announced the purchase of Art HK, a local art fair founded in 2008 that first put Hong Kong on the world map. “At the time, I don’t think any of us at Art Basel ever imagined the show getting so much momentum and so much attention so quickly,” said Marc Spiegler, global director of Art Basel.

During the first four years of Art Basel in Hong Kong, value added by arts, antiques and crafts to the Hong Kong economy grew by 20%, from HK$10 billion to HK$12 billion, according to the Census & Statistics Department.

The success of Art Basel also gave birth to satellite fairs. Art Central, which is in its third edition, is one example. Leslie Law, of Affinity For Art gallery, said Art Central provides a lower threshold for local galleries than does Art Basel, and is more accessible for visitors, since Art Basel tends to feature more conceptual art.

Mimi Chun, founder of Blindspot Gallery, said that before Art Basel, “only expats bought photographic artworks, most of my clients were overseas or local expats. I think this scene has changed a lot. Local Chinese people started to buy photographic work as well which is a transformation.”

Contemplating the future of art in Hong Kong? A scene from the Galerie Ora-Ora booth at Art Basel Hong Kong 2017. Courtesy of Art Basel

Hong Kong’s art scene faces very real challenges: There is no museum dedicated to contemporary art, (M+ is slated for completion in 2019); funding for artists is hard to come by, from both the market and government; and audience-building initiatives are lacking. Art Basel, and the subsequent development of Hong Kong’s art scene, have made a significant impact.

“Art Basel has served as an invaluable aspirational role for young artists in Hong Kong, providing a view of the potential for a sustainable career in the arts. It’s definitely made things better,” said Adrian Wong, a Los Angeles and Hong Kong-based visual artist. He said more local people have gone out to see the art than they did before, and that the local population has come to realise that a career in art and the cultural industries is actually feasible.

Cover photo: A close-up of Han Ishu’s work Colouring on show at URANO gallery. Discovery sector, Art Basel. PHOTO: CJC




相煎太急的可憐人 《一念無明》

Mad World Capstill38-1By Maggie Leung 梁敏姬

《一念無明》是導演黃進獲香港首部劇情片計劃資助的作品,在僅 200 萬製作費的資源困局下,以編劇陳楚珩的劇本打動知名演員們不收分文演出,更憑作品入圍並得到多個海內外殊榮。故事以患有燥鬱症的阿東(余文樂 飾)離開精神病院後,在社會與本來關係惡劣的父親大海(曾志偉 飾)重新生活為主線,插敍交代阿東患病前的過去。


電影最意外的情節是阿東的前女友 Jenny (方皓玟 飾)以宗教名義表示早已原諒阿東,實情是一直把罪人之名加諸在阿東上以換取「寬恕」的力量,令本以為可以與 Jenny 復合的阿東情緒崩潰。阿東在超市失控吃巧克力的影片被上傳到網絡,過去意外導致母親(金燕玲 飾)死亡的新聞再次被受輿論。父子二人被其他板間房的鄰居逼遷—— 其實大家同住一個單位,你我都不過是受社會和權貴壓逼的可憐人。相煎何太急呢,香港人?

Photos: Courtesy of Golden Scene

Ari Benjamin Meyers’ ‘An exposition, not an exhibition’ at Spring Workshop

cjc_2017_0748 拷貝
The performance by three local musicians from the Hong Kong New Music Ensemble at Spring Workshop on March 17, 2017.

By Di Liu

One doesn’t just happen upon Spring Workshop in Wong Chuk Hang, the up-and-coming arts district in the southern part of Hong Kong Island, on a Saturday afternoon. The adventure requires a deliberate plan to navigate high bridges, heavy traffic, local residents and fellow art lovers to find the destination in a dim, vacant industrial building.

At the entrance of the exhibition, visitors repeat the same ritual. They don black or white masks before stepping into the dark, mysterious site. As they enter, they are greeted by a mixture of the sounds from a cello, flute and clarinet, and a wall of text as part of An exposition, not an exhibition, which runs until April 1. This is it – a live music performance conceived by the Berlin-based American composer and artist Ari Benjamin Meyers performed together with the Hong Kong New Music Ensemble, who wear the same masks as the visitors.

This 30-minute performance is only a fraction of his multidisciplinary work. The project aims to bring together music and contemporary art, as well as six Hong Kong composers and seven local non-profit arts organisations, including M+, Asia Art Archive and Para Site.

Unlike many gallery shows, a single visit is not enough to take in this work since it takes place in multiple locations at different times. By using different media, locations and content during each performance, the project aims to transcend a typical white-cube gallery. Nomadic and ephemeral in nature, it will surely amaze visitors yet to come.

Photo: The performance by three local musicians from the Hong Kong New Music Ensemble at Spring Workshop on March 17, 2017.

Kingsley Ng’s ‘Twenty-Five Minutes Older’: An immersive, sensory tram experience

Twenty-Five Minutes Older by Kingsley Ng. Jessica Hromas for Art Basel

By Joana Schertenleib

When the black painted tram arrives visitors were already waiting. On the first floor instructions were given by two young women. Windows were covered with a dark brown film allowing light to shine in only through clear clippings of text. We have boarded the mobile artwork: Kingsley Ng’s Twenty-Five Minutes Older.

Text on the windows explained the stories behind the different layers of this transmedia work. The first clear patch of text describes the work’s first layer; a sound installation we listened to later that was based on snippets out of author Lau Yee Cheung’s well-known novel Tête-bêche. The second layer was the title itself, a reference to the 1978 Latvian black-and-white documentary by Herz Frank’s Ten Minutes Older, which was on the emotional journey of a group of children watching a 10-minute short film. The third layer dominated the entire upper level of the tram by using camera obscura, which turned the whole interior into a moving screen.

Twenty-Five Minutes Older by Kingsley Ng. Jessica Hromas for Art Basel

We climbed to the second floor and the mood became dreamlike. Windows were sealed on the upper floor, only two benches on the sides of the tram were illuminated. Splitting us into two groups, we decided which of the two audio lines to listen to before taking a seat. As soon as the headphones went on, the light dimmed and the journey began.

Music took us by the hand into the darkness and projections slowly appeared. Turned upside down through the camera obscura’s lens, the outside street scenes flickered on the inside walls. Using a simple visual setup, light entered the enclosed environment through an aperture and was cast, inverted, onto the inner surface. Lights appeared in the viewer’s mind like vague, forgotten memories coming through the shadows. Together with the soft rocking of the tram and the quietly spoken story fragments we were lulled.

Surprised when the lights suddenly came on again, as quickly as a dream disappeared, this sensory experience was over.

Photos: courtesy of Art Basel

Transcending the Confines of Time


Three artists explore different possibilities at MILL6’s ‘Line of Times’ exhibition

By Emily Cheung and Gabriel Yiu

While clocks rule our lives, time itself is an abstract concept, invented by people to lend order to chaos. In the exhibition Lines of the Times, put on by Hong Kong’s MILL6 Foundation, three artists attempt to portray this most intangible idea in concrete ways.

Hong Kong artist Morgan Wong’s Filing Down a Steel Bar Until a Needle is Made aims to investigate the meaning of time to human life. Named after a Chinese allegory that illustrates perseverance and connection between the past and the present, the multimedia work documents Wong’s process of creating a needle by hand that he is chiselling down from a block of steel his own size and weight over the course of his life.

“You never see the end, you never see the start. It kind of gives you a feeling that this project is never-ending,” said Wong, pointing to a monitor showing his ongoing work. “You always know that you cannot capture time, because time just keeps on passing. And this is only a wasted effort in a way.”

Brooklyn-based visual artists Anthony Aziz and Sammy Cucher, also known as Aziz + Cucher are considered pioneers of digitally based fine art photography and have worked with sculpture, animation, textiles and video installation since the early 1990s. In their first exhibition in Hong Kong, they are presenting four large digitally woven tapestries that combine the craftsmanship of the past, depictions of current events and forward-looking technology.

“They describe current issues, like the time when SARS was raging in Hong Kong. Maybe 100 years later, they may look up the historical moments on these works,” said Mizuki Takahashi, the senior curator and co-director of MILL6 Foundation.

Yin-Ju Chen is a multimedia artist from Taiwan who uses a combination of video, drawings and photography to create installations. Inspired by both Eastern and Western philosophy, her Extrastellar Evaluations II seek to reveal the connection between astrology and human history through line drawings and audio-visual projections to contemplate the uncertainty of human fate.

Lines of the Times runs from 11 March to 2 April at the MILL6 Pop-up Space at The Annex. For more details please click here.

Cultural Journalism Campus takes on Hong Kong Art Month 2017


Cultural Journalism Campus takes on Hong Kong Art Month

Flagship fellowship programme is joined by outreach activities

[HONG KONG – March 2017] Hong Kong-based non-profit educational outfit Cultural Journalism Campus is organising a host of activities to take place during Hong Kong Art Month this March – including the CJC Fellowship and CJC Outreach – to further its aims of raising the profile of cultural journalism and art criticism as well as promoting art appreciation in Hong Kong and beyond.

The 4th annual CJC Fellowship, organised with the support of institution partner MILL6 Foundation, takes place from March 17-25. A total of 10 students from around the world, including Hong Kong, mainland China, Switzerland and Germany, will attend a series of cultural journalism and art criticism workshops, under the guidance of experienced industry mentors (bios below). The events will take place at the Consulate General of Switzerland in Hong Kong and Art Basel.

The students will also attend cultural happenings over the course of the month and write about them for Culture Express. Copies of Culture Express, printed on March 23, will be available at our booth at Magazine Sector at Art Basel and cultural hotspots around the city, as well as via the CJC website. In addition to the production of Culture Express, the students will write articles for the CJC website and report on Art Month events via Facebook Live.

Taking place during the Hong Kong Art Month for the first time, the CJC Outreach will give children and teenagers, aged between 9 and 15, from local grass roots communities a chance to attend Art Central as well as art workshops staged at the fair from March 23 – 25, with the support from Art Central and UOB. The three workshops will cover live sketching, ink painting and live mural painting. (Instructor bios below).

“Through bringing our flagship CJC Fellowship programme together with the CJC Outreach at Hong Kong Art Month, Cultural Journalism Campus is able to join its short-term aim of expanding cultural horizons, with its long-term goal of promoting increased community involvement in the arts. While the CJC Fellowship offers aspiring young journalists and critics a unique learning opportunity to polish their skills under the guidance of media veterans and leaders of the arts and cultural sector in a professional media setting, the CJC Outreach aims to instill an appreciation of the arts in children and young people who might otherwise not have the opportunities to attend such events,” said Vivienne Chow, CJC Founding Director.

To date, CJC has nurtured the talents and curiosity of over 500 children, teenagers and students.


Mentor biographies (CJC Fellowship)

Esther Ng is a Hong Kong-based freelance lifestyle journalist and content marketing strategist with over 12 years experience in editorial, custom publishing and content creation. She has worked at the South China Morning Post, Prestige Hong Kong and Destination Macau, and now runs The Word Spot, a boutique content marketing firm.

Edwin Lee is a filmmaker, video producer and founder of bespoke video production company Fallout Media. He had started his news career at Asia Television (ATV) before pushing the new frontier of digital content for the SCMP and the Wall Street Journal. He currently contributes video works to BBC World News.

Adam Martin has over 12 years experience as a writer/editor in print and digital media. Currently an assistant news editor at the Wall Street Journal, he has worked for the South China Morning Post, New York Magazine, The Atlantic, The Times, the Jakarta Globe and the San Francisco Examiner as a metro reporter, food and features writer, digital editor, copy editor and more.

Tinny Cheng is a former financial journalist whose passion for arts and culture led her to begin covering these areas for newspapers 11 years ago. She spent seven and a half years covering these topics for The Hong Kong Economic Journal and currently works as a chief culture reporter for Apple Daily where she is responsible for the profile section “Tasting Apple” and arts and culture stories.

Instructor biographies (CJC Outreach)

Ivy Fung (live sketching instructor) is a multi-disciplinary artist and designer. Ivy likes to experiment with a range of medium and formats of expression, from public art to environmental graphics. Her works have been featured in MTR’s Art in Station programme, Hong Kong Velodrome Park, the Hong Kong Art Biennial and the Art Tech Media conference in Spain. Ivy has more than five years of experience teaching art, craft, drawing, sketching, computer art and photography to youngsters aged from five to 19. She has worked as an environmental graphic and wayfinding consultant for more than eight years in Southeast Asia and China.

Lo Kwan Chi (ink painting instructor) graduated from Fine Arts department at The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) in 1998 and completed a Master of Philosophy in History of Chinese Art. Inspired by Hong Kong’s urban landscape, Lo has recently devoted himself to the medium of Chinese ink. Lo’s work has featured in a number of local exhibition and awards including the Hong Kong Contemporary Art Biennial Awards, the New Art Wave Expo and New Art Force as well as collections held by The Chinese University of Hong Kong, the InterContinental Hong Kong and private collectors He is currently the Chairman of The Alumni Association of Fine Arts Department of CUHK.

Bo Law (live mural painting instructor) has provided illustrations for the Starbucks, the Sino Group, the Hong Kong Art School and the South China Morning Post. Law draws his inspiration by the living environments where his work is featured. His worked has appeared around Asia, including the Setouchi Triennale in Japan.

About Cultural Journalism Campus
Cultural Journalism Campus (CJC) is an award-winning non-profit educational initiative founded in 2014 by journalist, critic and lecturer Vivienne Chow. It aims to cultivate a new generation of audience for arts and culture in Hong Kong and beyond through promoting cultural journalism and art criticism as well as bringing arts and culture to the local community.


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