With tens of millions in China confined to their homes, galleries and institutions have likewise pivoted to online events.
Art Basel Hong Kong signage 2018. Courtesy Art Basel Hong Kong.
Art Basel will launch Online Viewing Rooms in March, allowing galleries to present works they had planned to show at Art Basel Hong Kong, which was cancelled due to the spread of COVID-19.
'While the Online Viewing Rooms cannot replace our 2020 fair in Hong Kong, we firmly hope that it will provide a strong support to all the galleries who were affected by the cancellation of our March show,' said Adeline Ooi, Director Asia, Art Basel.
The virtual viewing rooms will go live for VIPs from 18–20 March and be available to the public 20–25 March. They will be accessible at artbasel.com/viewing-rooms and on the Art Basel App.
Viewers will be able to browse works, filter them by gallery, artist, and medium, and contact galleries directly with sales inquiries. The service will be provided at no cost to galleries accepted for Art Basel Hong Kong 2020.
In future, the Online Viewing Rooms will run alongside the physical fairs, and galleries will be able to show works online that are not part of their physical booths.
Lise Li, the founder of Shanghai's Vanguard Gallery, which would have shown works by Zhu Changquan as part of Art Basel Hong Kong's Discoveries section, said, 'We can't say if [the online viewing room] is useful or not, but doing something is much better than no action.'
With tens of millions in China confined to their homes, many Chinese galleries and institutions have already redirected their energies online.
Fifty public museums, including the Forbidden City's Palace Museum, arranged virtual exhibitions at the behest of China's National Cultural Heritage Administration, which hopes to keep spirits up and people indoors.
On 13 February, Beijing's private M Woods museum launched Art Is Still Here: A Hypothetical Show for a Closed Museum. Works include video and interactive pieces that are being shared on the museum's website and social media.
'We have so many great contributions thus far by Robert Zhao Renhui, Solange Pessoa, Sun Xun, Tania Bruguera, Nabuqi, Oscar Murillo, Lawrence Abu Hamdan, Lawrence Lek, Zhao Zhao, and Li Binyuan, to name a few, but I am especially excited by the contributions by artist from the mainland that are directly being affected by the current epidemic,' said Artistic Director and Chief Curator Victor Wang.
BANK in Shanghai launched its own virtual exhibition, entitled Pure Beauty, on 14 February. Works include paintings, performances and screenshots shared on the gallery's social media.
An introduction to the show makes reference to the Chinese adage 'crisis also brings opportunity'. —[O]