ART HK 11: THE ART WORLD’S RISING SUN
by: Juliana Halpert
May 25, 2011
Today, Hong Kong’s International Art Fair—or ART HK—has opened its doors to buyers, collectors, and visitors from around the world for three full days. Housed in the massive Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Center, with dozens of additional events sprinkled throughout the city, ART HK 11 hosts exhibitions by over 250 galleries from 38 countries. The fair features many distinguished exhibitors and artists, including juggernauts like Andy Warhol, Damien Hirst, and Takashi Murakami, but also debuts the new sections ART FUTURES, which highlights recently formed galleries and emerging contemporary artists, and ASIA ONE, a group of solo exhibitions presented by Asian galleries.
Among the artists being shown at ASIA ONE is Liu Bolin, represented by Gallerie Paris-Beijing. Liu Bolin’s photographic series, Hiding in the City, is a compilation of photographs of Bolin himself standing, inert, in various locations in China, meticulously painted to blend into his surroundings. His static position and near-invisibility quietly conjure notions of oppression, scrutiny and conformity—in other words, the conditions of being a subject, whether within his own art or to a frighteningly inflated state power. The sentiment is anti-Chinese, of course, likely fueled by the state’s shutdown of his artists’ collaborative project.
The presence of Bolin’s patently political photographs at ART HK 11 is noteworthy, due to China’s ongoing detainment of the prominent artist and activist Ai Weiwei. Dubiously seized for “economic crimes”, Weiwei is among myriad other Chinese artists, writers, and activists—albeit less well known—who have been detained, arrested, or otherwise obstructed by their government in recent crackdowns on political dissenters.
While protests demanding the release of Ai Weiwei and other detainees have sprung up at Chinese embassies across the globe, there is little knowledge of any organized protest occurring at ART HK 11 later this week. London’s Lisson Gallery will be showing a selection of Ai Weiwei’s work at the fair, despite many activists’ call for an art-boycott until Weiwei is released. In a recent release, Lisson Gallery stated, “By continuing to show [Ai Weiwei’s] work, we build new audiences for it and draw attention to his plight…Hong Kong is a gateway to the entire Asian region, not just China, and its ART HK fair, auction houses and galleries represent the plurality of Asian voices and identities.”