Ocula MagazineContentsView All
Featured ContentView All
Sunjung Kim’s Real DMZ Project Interrogates the North and South Korea Divide Ocula Conversation Sunjung Kim’s Real DMZ Project Interrogates the North and South Korea Divide

Ongoing since 2012, the Real DMZ Project interrogates the demilitarised zone (DMZ) between North and South Korea through annual, research-based exhibitions that bring together the works of Korean and international artists. Sunjung Kim, the independent curator behind the project, conceived the idea of exploring the DMZ while curating Japanese artist...

Fade out copy.
Read More
Frieze Week Lowdown: London Shows to See Ocula Report Frieze Week Lowdown: London Shows to See 20 Sep 2019 : Tessa Moldan for Ocula

London's galleries and museums are gearing up for a lively October, with Frieze London and Frieze Masters running between 3 and 6 October 2019 at Regent's Park, along with 1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair, taking place across the same dates at Somerset House; and the tenth anniversary of the Sunday Art Fair, showcasing new and emerging artists...

Fade out copy.
Read More
Mark Bradford’s Call for Unity at Shanghai’s Long Museum Ocula Insight | Video Mark Bradford’s Call for Unity at Shanghai’s Long Museum 16 August 2019

Mark Bradford walks through Mark Bradford: Los Angeles Mark Bradford: Los Angeles at the Long Museum West Bund in Shanghai (27 July–13 October 2019) is the artist's largest solo exhibition to date in China. In this video for Ocula, Bradford and Diana Nawi, curator of the show, walk through selected works that convey the artist's concerns with...

Fade out copy.
Read More
Ocula Report

Cheap Talk And Plenty Of Rain: Art Basel In Hong Kong'S Opening Day

Stephanie Bailey Hong Kong 24 May 2013

They say talk is cheap. When it comes to buying or experiencing art, it’s all about the feeling, anyway: how the art moves you. Which is why Hammad Nasar, Head of Research and Programmes at the Asia Art Archive, noted that some of the best art critics talk about themselves; or at least how a work makes them feel. 

Nasar was speaking at the first Art Basel Salon discussion of ABHK, on whether or not the art world needs critics, moderated by Jan Dalley, Arts Editor of Financial Times. Aside from Nasar, the panel discussion featured Financial Times Art Market Correspondent Georgina Adam and Art Advisor and Director of the Vermillion Art Collection, Jehan Chu. During the discussion, Nasar got worked up. The conversation had veered more towards the market’s favour than he would have liked. At the end, the general conclusion was that we do need critics, even if the market trumps all….for now. (Chu suggested that it would only be when the market crashes that criticism might rise once more.)

This conclusion is a catch-22. As Chu noted on the dearth of critics in Hong Kong, the apparent lack is precisely why the market is so strong in Hong Kong. “There is a vacuum,” he noted. For a critic, such a conclusion was like a dagger to the heart. Especially when a man from the audience proceeded to state that critics were stupid.

But though there has been an apparent lack of local critics in Hong Kong, there has been a wealth of political commentary since the art fair began. One of the reasons why Basel found such a perfect place to launch its Asian fair is not just because this is an Asian metropolis (not to mention a financial Freeport), but also because this is a city without issues of censorship (major issues, nonetheless). This “non-issue” can be seen in the works on show in the fair, from Huang Rui’s Beijing Forbidden City (2013) – a red square depicting key dates alluding to major political events that took place in and around the forbidden city, 1949 and 1989 included – at 10 Chancery Lane, to a giant portrait of Chairman Mao presented as a central piece at the Bernier/Eliades gallery by Yan Pei Ming (Portrait Officiel Rouge, 2003), with a silver thorn crown by art fair favourite Wim Delvoye (Double Helix, 2008) placed before it. All subtle but prickly gestures.

The Yishu discussion raised the question of writing across cultures and the issue of translation – from writing in different languages to writing across publications and across forms, to the idea of translating the contexts and ideas from which artworks are produced and presented, not to mention how such issues naturally come to the fore when an institution like Art Basel – a western construct – is brought into a cultural context like Hong Kong.

Around the art works, the discussions are certainly flowing in the talks, panel discussions and conversations taking place in and around the fair. The first official Art Basel Conversation in the city was presented on 19th May at the Asia Society, featuring local artists Chow Chun Fai, Ho Sin Tung, Adrian Wong and Linda Lai discussing the concept of homegrown talent. The talk focused on how Art Basel might affect the local art scene. In response, the conversation chair, curator at M+ Pauline Yao, noted how in Hong Kong a sense of place thrives, making Art Basel in Hong Kong a fair that could well be affected more by its locality than vice versa (the fair affecting the locality).

This might not be entirely true. After talking to a number of gallerists on the first public day of the fair, the general consensus is that Art Basel has brought a more global crowd, from collectors to curators, all eager to learn more about artists from parts of the world they might not be so familiar with.

In thinking about how critique is affected by the global context of the art fair, Hong Kong’s Asia Art Archive hosted a roundtable discussion within the fair space, titled Writing Across Cultures, and organized as part of a community programme, Open Platform. It was chaired by Yishu Journal of Contemporary Art Editor-in-Chief Keith Wallace and included 2012 Yishu Award recipient Yu-Ling Chou, Executive Editor-in-Chief of Yishu’s Chinese version, Carol Yinghua Lu, and Christina Yu, Assistant Curator of Chinese Art, Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA).

The Yishu discussion raised the question of writing across cultures and the issue of translation – from writing in different languages to writing across publications and across forms, to the idea of translating the contexts and ideas from which artworks are produced and presented, not to mention how such issues naturally come to the fore when an institution like Art Basel – a western construct – is brought into a cultural context like Hong Kong.

Indeed, the market is a topical issue right now as the fair rages on, and it isn’t just a local discussion. Aside from the programme offered by Art Basel Conversations (which launched in Hong Kong a series focusing on the relationship between artist and gallerist) and the ABHK Salon programme, talks will also be held at the Asia Society (also showing Light Before Dawn: Unofficial Chinese Art 1974-1985) throughout May, while an Intelligence Squared debate on “The Market as a Judge for Art’s Quality” will be argued between Amy Cappellazzo and Jeffery Deitch for the motion, and Rirkrit Tiravanija and Matthew Collings against, mediated by Artforum’s own Charles Guarino on Friday, 24th May.

But despite the hot air, as far as the art fair is concerned, the market is always king and critique comes second. Thankfully, positive sales have been reported throughout, which bodes well for the fair’s future in the city, not to mention the potential for new critics to be born around art’s bubble. Alan Cristea announced the sale of a number of works by Marie Harnett, Richard Woods, Polly Apfelbaum, Joseph Albers, Gordon Cheung, Ian Davenport, Pablo Picasso and Joan Miro, while Dianne Tanzer reported positive sales in a solo presentation of works by Juan Ford.

In the end, talk isn't so cheap after all when you are making a sale. Needless to say, on the first public day of Art Basel in Hong Kong, gallerists were buoyant; the conversations on the art on show were flowing. Visitors arrived in their glorious numbers, sales made (more to report tomorrow) and a celebratory parade was organised by Art Basel with artist and musician Arto Lindsay to celebrate the launch of ABHK in true Hong Kong style. The parade started at Pier 10 in Central and ended with a performance by Otomo Yoshihide.

After the performance, and as the sun came down on the Hong Kong harbour, a small crowd remained, taking in the uncannily cool air, conversing into the evening and trailing off into the Hong Kong nightlife. [O]

Stay tuned for Stephanie’s market report, coming tomorrow. 

Back to Reports

WeChat

Scan the QR Code via WeChat to follow Ocula's official account.

Scan to follow Ocula on WeChat.
iCal GoogleYahooOutlook