Recovering from COVID-19, Hong Kong Galleries Face New Round of Protests and Announce New Art Initiative

Recovering from COVID-19, Hong Kong Galleries Face New Round of Protests and Announce New Art Initiative

As thousands of people marched in Hong Kong over the weekend to protest a proposed new anti-sedition law that would give China new powers over Hong Kong, the city braced itself for continued political turmoil. The protests are an added challenge for galleries already impacted by COVID-19, which caused Art Basel HK and much of the activity around the fair to be cancelled this year.

Hong Kong Art Gallery Association however, has unveiled a hopeful and ambitious 10-day market initiative,which has been given the name “Unscheduled”, that aims to revive the city’s art market after many months of closures, cancellations and financial trouble.

Despite the protests, “Unscheduled is moving ahead,” said a spokesperson for the event. “We continue to monitor the situation very closely and we will of course abide by any guidelines set out by the government and the venue.”

Organizers of “Unscheduled” consider the event a “response to these unprecedented times.” It plans to operate similarly to a fair, but they are billing it more as a “platform for selling and networking that will present solo exhibitions from gallery members, with a focus on modern and contemporary art that has a connection to Asia.”

The event is set to run from June 17-27 in the heritage-listed Studio in the Police Headquarters Block at Tai Kwun. The space boasts a free-flowing floor plan, designed in collaboration with BEAU Architects and will repurpose a traditional art fair layout to create a more decentralized and inclusive framework for participating galleries. The layout and overall schedule of events were informed by health and safety regulations, and ensure proper distancing, timed ticketing and overcrowding control.

The 13 participating galleries were selected by an independent team of local curators and artists like Ying Kwok and Sara Wong, and include a mix of established and emerging galleries. While most galleries will be showcasing one artist each, some bigger galleries will be exhibiting a whole range of artists from their rosters.

The organising committee is lead by Willem Molesworth (de Sarthe) and Fabio Rossi (Rossi & Rossi), both Hong Kong Art Gallery Association board members.

Some of the proceeds from ticket sales are set to be redistributed to the participating galleries as well as donated to local charity partner, Hands On Hong Kong, to support its relief efforts.

The full list of participants is as follows:

10 Chancery Lane, HK

Ben Brown Fine Arts, HK and London

Contemporary by Angela Li, HK

de Sarthe Gallery, HK

Edouard Malingue Gallery, HK

Hanart TZ Gallery, HK

Kwai Fung Hin Art Gallery, HK

L+ / Lucie Chang Fine Arts, HK

Leo Gallery, HK

Over the Influence, HK

Pearl Lam Gallery, HK

Rossi & Rossi, London

Whitestone Gallery, HK, Taipei, Tokyo, Karuizawa, Ginzu

Other initiatives that have attempted to strengthen the Hong Kong art scene recently include Art Basel HK’s online viewing rooms and the Art Power HK platform.