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Moving time capsules and a pyrotechnical work of art: 6 highlights from Art Basel in Hong Kong 2017

Published on 3/15/2017 by Christoph Spangenberg

Moving time capsules and virtual reality art, a pyrotechnical work of art, 242 of the most eminent galleries, plus a new sector: from 23 to 25 March 2017, Art Basel in Hong Kong is presenting a unique overview of art from Asia and the Asia-Pacific region for the fifth time. We have selected six highlights to share with you.

Art Basel in Hong Kong  2017 (MCH Group)

1. Encounters: 17 larger-than-life installations

Fidel Castro lying in state and, next to him in glass coffins, Ho Chi Minh, King Il Sung, Vladimir Lenin and Mao Zedong. The most famous communist leaders together in the same room. It goes without saying that the only participants who could be got together for such an unusual confabulation are sculptures. Artist Shen Shaomin is setting out to use his "Summit" installation for the purpose of research into how relevant the views of these politicians are in today’s society.

"Summit" is part of the Encounters sector, which is presenting 17 larger-than-life installations. Another of the works is "Putto" by Michael Parekowhai. It depicts a fallen angel without wings, lying on the ground in front of a bench, as if drunk or even dead. An angel not looking anything like the figures we are familiar with from the church or elsewhere. "Putto’s" purpose is thus to question our perception of cultural symbols. By the way, visitors are explicitly invited to sit down for a rest – on the bench or on the sculpture.
The work contributed by artist Li Jinghu is dedicated to the simple workers. He takes used strip lights from industrial buildings and assembles them to form abstract clouds. They are meant to be symbols representing a long-lost time when it was still possible for human beings to look up and behold the skies instead of the neon lights in the factory buildings where they work.

Art Basel in Hong Kong 2017 (MCH Group)

Art Basel in Hong Kong 2017 (MCH Group)

Art Basel in Hong Kong 2017 (MCH Group)

Art Basel in Hong Kong 2017 (MCH Group)

2. Twenty-Five Minutes Older: a journey by tram and through time across Hong Kong

Moving time capsules in the middle of the fast-moving city: With his "Twenty-Five Minutes Older" project, Kingsley Ng converts two Hong Kong trams into mobile camera obscuras. Film recordings of street life are projected in the trams, mixed with street signs and other impressions – with everything upside down and the wrong way round. The visual impressions have spoken ones added to them in the form of excerpts from the novella "Tête-bêche" by the Chinese author Liu Yichang. The inhabitants can thus experience their city in a totally new way.

3. Film: The Pyrotechnical Work of Art "Sky Ladder"

A ladder leading to the skies, painted with fireworks, aglow yet ephemeral: The pyrotechnical work of art “Sky Ladder” is the boldest work to date by Chinese Cai Guo-Qiang. The documentation "Sky Ladder: The Art of Cai Guo-Qiang" accompanies the artist and the impressive project and is part of the film programme of Art Basel in Hong Kong, with more than thirty films and videos. Trailer:

4. Virtual Reality: Google's "Tilt Brush" art project 

The entire living room is the canvas, offering endless possibilities: with Google’s “Tilt Brush” virtual reality project, artists paint three-dimensionally in virtual space. In Hong Kong, Art Basel and Google Arts & Culture are presenting the project "Virtual Frontiers: Artists experimenting with Tilt Brush". On display are works by artists boychild, Cao Fei, Robin Rhode, Sun Xun and Yang Yongliang. In addition, Freya Murray, program manager of Google Arts & Culture, and artists Cao Fei and Yan Yongliang will be guests at a discussion panel on the topic of virtual art at 15.30 on 22 March. The discussion forms part of "Conversations" – a series of round tables with artists, gallery owners, art historians, curators, museum directors and collectors. The trailer for Tilt Brush:

5. Cabinet sector: Premiere in Hong Kong

The Cabinet sector, which for many years has been a top feature of Art Basel in Miami Beach, is coming to Asia too in 2017. Its principle is that a curated project is set up in a separate area of the exhibition stands operated by the 19 participating galleries and it may be, for instance, an individual or a group exhibition, an installation, a film or a video project or a collection with a theme from the history of art.

6. Galleries, Insights, Discoveries: 242 Galleries

The Galleries sector is the main part of the show. This is where 190 galleries exhibit paintings, sculptures, drawings, installations, photographs and video works. The Insights sector showcases curated projects from 27 galleries, while the Discoveries sector, with its 25 galleries, offers a platform for the stars of tomorrow. Here are some impressions of the works on display:

Art Basel in Hong Kong 2017 (MCH Group)

 Art Basel in Hong Kong 2017 (MCH Group)

Art Basel in Hong Kong 2017 (MCH Group)

Art Basel in Hong Kong 2017 (MCH Group)

Art Basel in Hong Kong 2017 (MCH Group)

Art Basel in Hong Kong, 23-25 March 2017, HKCEC (Hong Kong Convention & Exhibition Centre). Tickets and information at
Christoph Spangenberg

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