Usual free VIP pass fails to materialize

Hong Kong is about to undergo its annual overload of cultural commerce, as Art Basel – the world’s largest arts fair – opens its 2018 Hong Kong ‘edition’.

The MOMA-cum-Walmart show is more exhausting than stimulating. Being popular among the general public and heavily corporate, it has become officially non-trendy. Genuinely cool and cutting edge Beautiful People have [sniff] lost interest and don’t go. (The alt/fringe/spillover Art Central on the waterfront still perhaps has some edgy credibility.)

Apparently, Chief Executive Carrie Lam will speak at the official Art Basel HK opening today. I have a bet that she will mention ‘Belt and Road’ in her remarks. She will definitely stress Hong Kong as an ‘arts hub’. To officials, culture is classified along with tech, inno-, bio- and green – incomprehensible but vital to the city’s need to ‘find new paths for long-term development’, as a tycoon-establishment think-tank puts it.

Arts and culture must therefore be about real estate. The bloated, bureaucratic West Kowloon Arty Hub-Zone eventually promises a probably-decent modern art museum in M+, along with assorted white-elephant stuff like the Xiqu Mega-Horror, a multi-billion basement, the Sudden Patriotic Palace Museum out of Nowhere and – coming soon, you can be sure – luxury apartments.

Actual people who do actual art and culture complain about high rents and a lack of government support (see a hilarious attempt to access a public crafts centre, and other moans here). The taxpayer does subsidize avant-garde dance, film-making and other activities quite handsomely – and the predictable and intended result is that they become safe and non-subversive. Officials want concrete-pouring, development, tourism and anything that pushes rents up. Other than socialist realism with you-know-what characteristics, creative expression in Hong Kong is destined to be more than ever underground.

I declare what is technically a four-day weekend starting Thursday – but for the luckier of us a longer one commencing forthwith – open, with some highly recommended art-or-at-least-illustration entitled Babel Hong Kong by one Emily Allchurch (check out the original first to refresh your memory).

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3 Responses to Usual free VIP pass fails to materialize

  1. Art or Phart (phoney art), that is the question.

    Hong Kong people are largely Philistines, and have entertainment rather than culture.

    Art requires mystery and is unconsumable, two enormous problems for the people you appear to believe “deserve better”.

    They don’t.

  2. Yeah, Simon Birch, some of us had a party when he dragged his talentless and overhyped ego out of Hong Kong.

    Carrie, for all her faults, is at least somewhat engaged with art and artists in Hong Kong (and reasonably well informed). Hong Kong needs cheap (with security of long term tenure) studio space more than it needs big art fairs. In theory art studio’s can only be in comercial buildings, not industrial. Unless you are a scupltor, maybe.

    And Art Central being edgy, nope, very middle of the road. The few edgy works on show are at Art Bazzzzeeeeelllll

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