Arts & Entertainment

Show must go on: Art Basel launches virtual viewing pods

Madrid, Mar 18 (EFE).- Art Basel, the world’s biggest art fair, has created virtual viewing rooms after it became the first coronavirus victim of the contemporary art world.

As the spread of Covid-19 continues to disrupt programmed events and exhibitions around the world, museums and galleries have begun to close their doors but the art world is finding innovative ways to maintain viewers engaged.

Art Basel was forced to cancel its Hong Kong show but has replaced the event with Online Viewing Rooms which have launched to the press and members of the sector on Wednesday and will open doors to the public on Friday.

The digital platform will offer collectors, enthusiasts and professionals the opportunity to browse gallery offerings and proposals online. Buyers will be able to make enquiries on prices and make online purchases.

“The Online Viewing Rooms will provide galleries with a further possibility for engaging with our global audiences, complementing the essential personal interactions that continue to underlie the art market,” Art Basel director Marc Spiegler said in a statement.

Over 235 dealers who were due to take their collections to Hong Kong will instead contribute to the virtual art fair with some 2,000 pieces.

Each work will have a price, or price range, attached to the work and galleries have agreed to respond to the enquiries of prospective buyers within 24 hours.

The estimated value of the combined artworks is around $270 million.

The art will be displayed as high definition images under each private collector’s or gallery’s digital viewing booth.

Highlights include a Yayoi Kusama’s Life Shines On, an emblematic example of the Japanese artist’s psychedelic mirrored installations which will be displayed by Ota Fine Arts. The artwork is 2 x 2 meters and gives the impression of an infinite landscape.

AAAA-AAAA a joint performance by Marina Abramovic and her recently deceased partner Ulay, sees the pair delve into an endurance piece in which both artists look at each other and scream for as long as they can. Abramovic wins the contest, but not before becoming hoarse.

Japan Is America by Fergus McCaffrey offers punters an in-depth study of the post-war relationship between Japan and America, and the Hong Kong-based Galerie du Monde explores the creative crossovers between Western abstraction and East Asian art and philosophy.

“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,” Adeline Ooi, Director Asia, Art Basel, said in a statement.

The move has seen technology and art come together to broach the complex setting the world now faces.

“As the art market continues to evolve, Art Basel has continually investigated how new technologies can give us new opportunities to support our galleries,” Spiegler added. EFE


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