Art Basel Hong Kong and Eurovision Song Contest Bring Back the Global Art Scene

With two major cultural events staged this past weekend, the international arts scene has indicated it has no intention of letting another year be canceled by Covid.

Art Basel Hong Kong, which took place May 19-23, marked the return of one of the world’s most revered art fairs. The show came on the heels of Frieze New York, held earlier this month, which was New York’s first major in-person art fair since the start of the pandemic.

The hugely popular Eurovision Song Contest in Europe also returned after a one-year hiatus. Held from May 18 to 22, the competition was watched by nearly 200 million viewers, including a live audience of 3,500 people, according to the show’s organizers.

After more than a year of canceled large-scale gatherings around the world, the two events represent a significant step forward in the quest for post-pandemic normalcy, while also highlighting the different methods employed by Asia. and Europe to achieve this goal.

Art Basel Hong Kong becomes “ hybrid ”

With its first show in over a year, Art Basel has returned to the world stage after canceling its three annual shows last year – Hong Kong in March, its flagship fair in Basel, Switzerland in June, and Miami Beach. , Florida in December.

All three events are back this year with the first, Art Basel Hong Kong, launching a “hybrid” format that allows attendees to appear virtually or in person.

Art Basel Hong Kong 2021, which was moved from March to May, launched a “hybrid” fair format.

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Private collectors from over 30 countries and territories attended “virtual tours” of the fair, held at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Center. Over 100 galleries participated, many of which joined through satellite stands that allowed gallery owners to interact with attendees without traveling to Hong Kong.

“After designing our stand plan for the fair, the gallery shipped all of the artwork to Hong Kong to be installed there by the Art Basel team, as we have done in recent years,” said said Valerie Carberry, partner at Gray, Chicago, New York. “As we were unable to travel to Hong Kong to attend the show on our own, Art Basel appointed a booth assistant to take care of the booth for us.”

The gallery scheduled video meetings before the fair to prepare the assistant, who Carberry said was “incredibly professional … we felt well represented.”

Face masks appeared as new canvases at Art Basel Hong Kong 2021.

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Participants can also consult the collections via online viewing rooms, which Art Basel launched last year. According to Art Basel, the online rooms of the exhibition canceled in Hong Kong in 2020 featured works from more than 230 galleries and attracted some 250,000 visitors.

“We all wanted to be there in person, of course, but being able to relay information to customers in real time, who are standing in your booth, was as close as we got to a fairground experience. art in person from the start. pandemic, ”Carberry said.

“Although we didn’t travel, we all felt a bit ‘offbeat’ afterwards, but it was definitely worth expressing to our Hong Kong customers how much we appreciate their business and the support of Our program.”

Return of the Eurovision Song Contest

The cancellation of last year’s Eurovision Song Contest, or Eurovision for short, may have been what led this year’s contest to garner its largest audience since 2016.

The singing competition, which began in 1956, pits artists from most European countries, 26 of them qualifying for the grand final. The country that produces the winning act hosts the next competition.

This year, Italian rock band Maneskin took home the top prize, ensuring that the competition will be held in Italy in 2022.

Italian rock band Maneskin won Eurovision 2021, which relied on social distancing and testing to keep attendees healthy ahead of the show.

Soeren Stache | image alliance | image alliance | Getty Images

The show was largely a face-to-face event, with most of the contestants appearing live from Rotterdam, the Netherlands. Australian Montaigne performed via a recorded recording due to her inability to travel to Europe, a first in the show’s 65-year history.

Participants wore masks and followed social distancing warrants, and candidates underwent regular, isolated Covid testing in their hotel rooms, unless they were exercising, according to Eurovision.

The show also limited the number of live viewers in attendance. Still, the 3,500 people who watched in person were enough to make Eurovision 2021 one of Europe’s biggest live entertainment events since the start of the pandemic.

The annual competition, which captivates Europe but is largely unknown to American audiences, is set to launch in the United States next year on NBC. Advertised as the “American Song Contest,” performers from 50 states, five US territories and Washington, DC, will compete for the title of Best Original Song, according to the Eurovision Song Contest.

What awaits us

With the exception of Art Dubai, which started at the end of March 2021, most of the major international art exhibitions that were originally scheduled to take place before May have been canceled. These include Frieze Los Angeles and Netherlands Tefaf Maastricht, both of which were postponed before being canceled.

The Art Basel fairs in Basel and Miami Beach are back on the books, although the Swiss fair has been moved from June to September to safely “allow the widest possible international audience to attend,” according to the website of the fair.

Another top international art fair, Frieze London, is set to return in October.

These fairs are expected to have a strong in-person attendance. Yet Art Basel’s digital components are here to stay, according to Marc Spiegler, Global Director of Art Basel.

“We have developed a whole toolkit of techniques and tactics to allow people to access the program from a gallery digitally,” he told the New York Times. “The pandemic has equipped us to do a better job of serving collectors who cannot attend.”

The next Eurovision Song Contest is scheduled for May 2022. Although details have not been confirmed, speculation online about dates and places has begun.

Hong Kong is also pushing with high-profile plans that are tailored to match the city’s conservative approach to Covid containment. True to its nickname of “artistic capital of Asia”, the city will host a number of festivals and art performances, including the contemporary art exhibition “Ink City” and the French May Arts Fest with some 80 events spread throughout the city through June.

A new visual arts museum is due to open this year in Hong Kong’s new “T” -shaped M + building.

PETER PARKS | AFP | Getty Images

The Hong Kong Ballet is set to perform “Romeo + Juliet” next month, after the show was canceled last summer.

The new Hong Kong Building M + will house one of the largest museums of contemporary visual culture in the world. The “T-shaped” museum has 65,000 square meters (700,000 square feet) of space, which includes 33 galleries, three cinemas, a research center, restaurants, a tea and coffee bar, a lounge for limbs and a roof garden overlooking Victoria Harbor.

The museum is expected to open later this year.

Disclosure: NBCUniversal is the parent company of CNBC.

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