What Not to Miss During Art Basel in Hong Kong

Yana Peel
Mar 9, 2015 10:22PM

Yana Peel is CEO of Intelligence Squared, the world’s leading forum for live debate, and co-founder of Outset Contemporary Art Fund. In advance of Art Basel in Hong Kong, we asked her to share her guide to the fair and collateral events happening at some of her favorite Hong Kong venues.

Image courtesy of Yana Peel.

I arrived from London at the end of the year in which the first Art HK fair took place, so for me, each passing fair signals another pencil mark in the height chart on my Hong Kong doorpost. Art Basel in Hong Kong not only provides a unique opportunity to see art (from over 230 galleries representing nearly 40 countries!), but it also catalyses exciting programmes in my favorite non-commercial venues.

At the Fair: “The Art World Is A Boys’ Club” Debate

Image courtesy of Intelligence Squared.

This year promises to be a year of many highlights—including the seventh annual Intelligence Squared debate at Art Basel: “The Art World is a Boys’ Club.” We now stage Intelligence Squared debates and discussions to live audiences of thousands on five continents; this one has already catalysed exciting conversations and promises to be of great interest for a diverse group of friends and fans in Hong Kong. A panel of celebrated speakers, including Frances Morris (Head of Collections, International Art, Tate Modern), Charles Guarino (Publisher, Artforum), Gregor Muir (Executive Director, ICA London), and Elaine Kwok (Director of Education, Christie’s Education, Asia), and moderator Alexandra Munroe (Samsung Senior Curator, Asian Art, Guggenheim) will tackle the contentious notion “The Art World Is A Boys’ Club,” exploring whether the visual arts arena is a bastion of male privilege and prejudice or an evolving arena where women are continually breaking the mold. 

“The Art World is a Boys’ Club,” Sunday, Mar. 15, 2015, 2–3:30 p.m., Room N101, The Hong Kong Convention & Exhibition Centre, 1 Expo Drive, Wanchai, Hong Kong. Tickets are HK $300 and can be purchased here.


ICA Executive Director Gregor Muir, a speaker at the debate (and longtime cultural collaborator) will also be co-curating an exciting exhibition at restaurant and art space Duddell’s, alongside Alia Al-Senussi and Abdullah AlTurki. The show will be a collaboration with the Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA), recognized as “the original home of radical arts and culture in London,” and will mark ICA’s first exhibition in Hong Kong. The exhibition will be included in the Art Basel VIP program and is accessible to the public during normal opening hours. 

“Duddell’s Presents: ICA Off-Site: Hong-Kongese” is on view at Duddell’s, Hong Kong, Mar. 12–Jun. 22, 2015. Duddell’s is located at Level 3, Shanghai Tang Mansion, 1 Duddell Street, Central, Hong Kong.


A highlight of the week (and for me, of the year, in fact!) will be the opening of “A Hundred Years of Shame – Songs of Resistance and Scenarios for Chinese Nations,” the inaugural show at Para Site’s new location in North Point/Quarry Bay (the art space which I proudly co-chair with Alan Lau). In this exhibition, curator Cosmin Costinas will be exposing the clichés and risks behind the rising Chinese nationalism of our time—big ideas worthy of the legendary art venue’s expansive new space. Featuring artists from Hong Kong, Taiwan, mainland China, and beyond, the show promises to revisit a disobedient intellectual spirit under the current social and ideological conditions in the region. As co-chair of Para Site in these recent years, I am thrilled that the celebrated art space will be getting the space it deserves as it nears its second decade. The show promises to please and provoke in equal measure!

“A Hundred Years of Shame — Songs of Resistance and Scenarios for Chinese Nations” is on view at Para Site, Mar. 7–May 10, 2015. Para Site is located at 22/F, Wing Wah Industrial Building, 677 King’s Road, Quarry Bay, Hong Kong, open from 12 to 7 p.m. Wed.–Sun.


The most exciting venues outside of the Admiralty district (home of the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre) will be in the neighborhoods Sheung Wan and Wang Chuk Hang, where Asia Art Archive (AAA) and Spring Workshop will respectively present the inspiring programming for which they are so well known. Don’t miss the current Ha Bik Chuen exhibition, “Excessive Enthusiasm,” at AAA.

“Excessive Enthusiasm: Ha Bik Chuen and the Archive as Practice” is on view Mar. 11–May 30, 2015. Asia Art Archive is located at 11/F Hollywood Centre, 233 Hollywood Road, Sheung Wan, Hong Kong, open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Mon.–Sat. 


I am so eagerly awaiting the exhibition at Mimi Brown’s celebrated Spring Workshop, which is being curated by Christina Li. Christina was assistant curator at Para Site when I arrived from London, then pursued curatorial studies at de Appel and work in Europe. In her first Hong Kong show, she will take over Spring Workshop in a one-year directorship starting August 2015. My favorite parts of the show are: Elmgreen & Dragset’s clutch of young men who will be writing in their diaries daily; melting ice works by Jewyo Rhii; a carpet performance by Cevdet Erek; Magdalen Wong’s slo-mo tape performance; and Lee Kit’s installation, which he’ll be creating when he stays in solitude at Spring over Chinese New Year.

“Days push off into nights” is on view at Spring Workshop, Feb. 28–Apr. 26, 2015. Spring Workshop is located at 3/F Remex Centre, 42 Wong Chuk Hang Road, Aberdeen, Hong Kong, open from 12 to 6 p.m. Tues.–Sun.


VIP Event: Chai Wan Nites Art Party, Saturday, March 14th

I am thrilled to again be supporting the Chai Wan Nites event, celebrating the return of the Chai Wan Mei Art & Design Festival to the most creative community in Hong Kong! The evening promises be an Art Basel in Hong Kong highlight, designed by MAP Office with works and performances by artists ranging from Rirkrit Tiravanija to Didier Faustino, with music curated by musician and composer Shane Aspegren (of Berg Sans Nipple renown). This will mark the seventh year that Stephen and I have been championing performance at the art fair—from Tsang Kin-Wah and Frog King to Kalup Linzy and Bishi. Having commissioned award-winning artist Ryan McNamara last year to perform “SCORE” at Chai Wan Nites (in collaboration with Alice Rensy and local dancers), we were thrilled with the resonance that the 20-minute work had with the audience. We will lure a great group over to Chai Wan from the amfAR benefit, the inaugural Hong Kong event in aid of the Foundation for AIDS Research; the party will undoubtedly continue well into Sunday morning in the industrial space at the heart of Chai Wan Mei!


RSVP to [email protected] or +852 2810 0065 (must have an Art Basel Private View VIP Card).


Yana Peel

Yana Peel
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