Art Basel: Captivating Arenas

Art Basel: Captivating Arenas

The institutional landscape is transforming, dissolving the physical boundaries between artwork and viewer. The Encounters and Discoveries strands of this year’s Art Basel show in Hong Kong exemplify this, foregrounding a series of site-specific, immersive and interactive projects that are at once visually arresting and socially responsive.

For example, Ulla von Brandenburg’s (b. 1974) 7 Curtains – comprising seven large stage drapes – examines notions of performance, encouraging audiences to step into the colour field and take part in a theatrical narrative. Another mesmerising environment, Liminal Air Space-Time, a kinetic work by Shinji Ohmaki (b. 1971), occupies the intersection between states, creating a hypnotic illusion of air as a three-dimensional form.

Iván Navarro’s (b. 1972) Compression takes this notion into the political realm, transforming the spherical shape of the Earth into a cube. The piece questions the impact of globalisation, highlighting its inherent inequalities. In a similar way, Isabel and Alfredo Aquilizan’s (b. 1965, b. 1962 respectively) air-activated work is concerned with mass migration, examining the complex reality of contemporary agrarian societies in Asia.

The fair takes a forward-thinking approach, introducing a range of interactive topographies that blur the boundaries between art and technology. For example, as part of the Discoveries strand, Capsule Shanghai showcases The Darker Side of Light II, an immersive light installation by Feng Chen (b. 1986). The space – dominated by white LEDs – has a disorientating effect, altering the participant’s perceptions by blocking external sounds. A series of VR experiences are also on display, including She’s Already Gone, a hand-painted work in four scenes by Yu Hong (b. 1965) of Long March Space, Beijing.

Taking an interdisciplinary approach, Timur Si-Qin’s (b. 1984) piece, Depolarization combines elements of Virtual Reality with installation to address global issues of climate change. It comprises light boxes, 3D renderings of artificial environments and a simulation of the natural environment. Neil Beloufa (b. 1985), of Balice Herling, Paris, also intertwines media to address socio-political ideas. A sculptural video interrogates notions of the state and surveillance, presenting a series of characters – in the role of high-ranking officials – confronting stereotypes associated with their respective cultural backgrounds.

Art Basel, Hong Kong, runs from 29-31 March. Find out more here.

1.  Iván Navarro, Compression, 2018. Courtesy of the artist and Paul Kasmin Gallery.