HK Art 09

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 14 May, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 14 May, 2009, 12:00am

Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre

Today to May 17

It may still be the new kid on the block, but the two-year-old Hong Kong International Art Fair is fast establishing itself as a major event for art dealers and collectors in and outside the region. This year, despite the economic downturn, HK Art 09 promises to be bigger, with more than 110 galleries from 24 countries taking part, featuring an array of local and overseas artists, such as Simon Birch, Wilson Shieh, Konstantin Bessmertny (whose work at right is being shown), and Damien Hirst.

Participating galleries will include New York's Gagosian Gallery, Tokyo's Tomio Koyama Gallery, Beijing's Red Gate Gallery, London's White Cube and local names such as Amelia Johnson Contemporary, Kwai Fung Hin Art Gallery and Anna Ning Fine Art.

But there's more to HK Art 09 than buying and selling. A range of cultural events will take place over the next three days at the Convention and Exhibition Centre, making the fair as relevant to the community at large as it is to art dealers and collectors.

The Asia Art Archive is the official educational partner of the fair and will be organising a free programme called Backroom Conversations, featuring screenings and panel discussions. One highlight will be tomorrow's panel discussion on reinventing contemporary Chinese Art.

Speakers will include Johnson Chang Tsong-zung, owner of Hanart TZ Gallery, Hu Fang, director of Vitamin Creative Space, collector Uli Sigg and curator Pauline Yao. Together they will look at how the economic downturn is affecting the future development of that genre.

On Saturday, two panel discussions with a focus on the role of museums will be moderated by Charles Merewether of the art fair's advisory group and Vasif Kortun, director of Platform Garanti Contemporary Art Centre in Istanbul, who will be joined by artists Michael Lin and Rirkrit Tiravanija respectively.

To continue the archive's effort to raise public awareness of the importance of a museum in the West Kowloon Cultural District project, it has been calling on the community to build a collection for its dream museum since last month. At the fair, the not-for-profit body will set up the Dream Museum Convenience Store, a follow up to last year's What is Your Dream Museum? project (left), to showcase a selection of responses in the form of written cards, photos and objects it has received so far.

The archive says it wishes 'to create an environment that the public can easily access'.

Another highlight of Art HK 09 will be tomorrow's debate, entitled Finders, Not Keepers! Cultural Treasures Belong in Their Country of Origin, organised by Intelligence? Asia and tackling the contentious issue of the rightful ownership, display and sale of historically significant artefacts.

Speaking for the motion will be entrepreneur and culture commentator Sir David Tang, newspaper columnist and chairman of Britain's National Trust Simon Jenkins and director of the Museum of London group Jack Lohman. On the other side are British archaeologist Lord Renfrew, author and journalist Peter Watson and Don Cohn, senior editor of Asia Art Pacific.

Tickets for Art HK 09, HK$200. Inquiries: 2918 8793. Tickets for Finders, Not Keepers! HK$300 including entry to HK Art 09. Inquiries: 3128 8288. Admission to Asia Art Archive's Backroom Conversions is free. Inquiries: 2815 1112