Words: Maddy Matheson
Art Basel has announced the first edition of Art Basel Live, a virtual event to run parallel with the Hong Kong fair in May 2021. Art Basel Live presents a multifaceted digital experience ranging from online viewing rooms to virtual tours, events and walkthroughs streamed across a plethora of platforms including the Art Basel website, YouTube and Facebook. With 104 participating galleries from 23 countries around the world, this year’s physical fair takes place in the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre and will feature 56 satellite booths presenting digitised artworks for sale.
Adeline Ooi, Director Art Basel Asia, explains that Art Basel Live, “will allow us to bring the exceptional presentations of our galleries and the exciting cultural offerings of Hong Kong to our global network of collectors and patrons, including those who may not be onsite with us in 2021 but nonetheless remain equally engaged from afar.”
As border restrictions in Australia remain in place and the Covid-19 vaccination rollout trudges on, overseas travel remains out of the question for most Australian participants. Co-director of Fox Jensen Gallery in Sydney Emma Fox states, “This is not a decision. We have no part in deciding what we can or cannot do in regards to Art Basel Hong Kong.”
“Our situation remains unchanged, with the Australian government keeping our borders closed until at least July. The quarantine situation in Hong Kong alone would make this completely impossible, and our national carrier looks only to allow us to fly if we are vaccinated.” With this in mind Fox confirms Fox Jensen Gallery will not be participating in this year’s fair. Yavuz Gallery in Sydney is currently the sole participating Australian gallery.
Art Basel has hinted at further expansion of the online model in order to combat challenging travel conditions that continue to unfold. For now, the reception of Art Basel Live to global audiences remains to be seen.
Art Basel Hong Kong and Art Basel Live are open to the public from 19 to 23 May 2021.
Image: View of Art Basel Hong Kong 2019. Photo: Esther Chan for ArtAsiaPacific. Courtesy: the artists and Art Basel.