6 Booths Not to Miss at Art Basel Hong Kong

Toniann Fernandez

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Sophia Al-Maria's installation with Project Native Informant.

Art Basel’s sixth edition in Hong Kong opened this week with 248 galleries from 32 countries, 28 of which are participating for the first time. The fair takes place in the behemoth Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre on Victoria Harbour and presents an impressive selection of programs that spotlight the artists of the fair’s region while celebrating connections with those from afar. Here, we share the booths that stand out from the crowds.

Zhang Xu Zhan’s Infestation at Project Fulfill Art Space
Zhang Xu Zhan’s paper pulp rats are a jarring sight. Some peer into mirrors and some stand erect atop plinths but all lead the way to the artist’s stop motion animation Si So Mi Hsin Hsin Joss Paper Home Series. The sculptures found in the film and scampering about the booth are made according Zhizha, an ancient Taiwanese tradition in which paper effigies are made for religious rituals and ceremonies.

Erwim Wurm’s One Minute Sculptures Bring Lehmann Maupin, Thaddeus Ropac and König Galerie Together
Erwin Wurm’s One Minute Sculptures depend entirely on audience participation and fairgoers at Art Basel Hong Kong seem more than happy to oblige. A Birkin Bag, a credenza, tennis balls and more are scattered about a massive white platform in groupings accompanied by proposals from the artist. These “everyday” objects, animated by willing crowd members according to the artist’s instructions, form ephemeral sculptures that are at one humorous and philosophical.

Installation view, Sadie Coles HQ, Booth 1B05, Art Basel Hong Kong 2018, Hong Kong, 29 March – 31 March 2018. Courtesy of the gallery.

Sadie Coles Soothes with an Elegant Group Show
Sadie Coles’ booth features the blue-chip names you’d expect: Laura Owens and Jordan Wolfson, but the colors at play, earthen and marine, feel refreshingly demure. Take for example, the specifically urine-colored resin toilets by Sarah Lucas that might recall seaglass if they weren’t reminding us of our own biological needs. Delightful and humorous, this booth feels like the ferry ride across Victoria Harbour with a funny friend (and perhaps a full bladder).

Still from Zhang XU Zhan’s Si So Mi Hsin Hsin Joss Paper Home Series. Courtesy of artist and the gallery.

Chaos and Beauty Go Hand in Hand at Fine Arts Literature
Music emanates from Li Zhanyang’s A Tale of Two Cities, the centerpiece for his solo presentation, Wind and Moon. The gallery cites this title as a metaphor for sexual desires in ancient China, and explains that Zhanyang’s work depicts “the appearances and vulgar life of lower-class figures in China’s social transformation in a straightforward and narrative style.” The inhabitants of the scene presented drink, play cards and spy on their neighbors, resulting in a landscape that is Boschian in its chaotic beauty.

Sophia Al-Maria Takes Mirrors to the Next Level with Project Native Informant
Just when we thought we had seen enough mirrors at art fairs, Sophia Al-Maria shows up with Mirror Cookie, an impressive installation featuring Chinese-American actress Bai Ling trapped in a sometimes glitchy video-matrix and flanked with animated hearts is of the artist’s ilysm series.

Al-Maria sought to work with a veteran of the misogyny industrial complex of Hollywood, and selected Ling (The Crow, Sharknado 5: Global Swarming, Entourage, Wild Wild West) for her “apparent indifference to the racism, homophobia and sexism of the violent gaze she is subjected to in social and tabloid media.”

Everyone waiting in line to put on the headphones  can see your reflection, but none of them know what’s going on between your ears: a voiceover by Ling saying, “Let me go, #power, #magic, never say no to me.”

Aisha Khalid Reflects on Pakistan at Zilberman Gallery
Pakistani artist Aisha Khalid’s Two Worlds As One (2017) consists of two enormous tapestries in red, velvet and gold embroidered with long and sharp pins. Khalid reflects on traditional miniature motifs of gender and domesticity in Pakistan. The work is composed by inserting thousands of gold-plated and steel pins to the textile panel, one by one. The scale of the work is shocking and results in a duality of ornate beauty and a sharp, strong internal structure.