It has been a year into the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak. Vaccine rollouts are underway in dozens of countries, yet it seems like the return of large-scale events will still have to be on hold. Art Basel has announced the postponement of its 2021 Hong Kong and marquee Swiss fair to May and September respectively.
The Hong Kong fair will take place at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre from May 19 to 23, whereas the flagship fair in Switzerland is scheduled for September 21 to 26. Just like last year’s edition, there will be online viewing rooms, with the first one running from March 24 to 27.
This year's Art Basel Hong Kong and Swiss fairs are postponed due to travel restrictions worldwide
Inaugurated in 1970, Art Basel stands as the central part of the global art scene as one of the most important cultural events worldwide, with its three largest fairs traditionally held in Hong Kong (March), Basel (June), and Miami Beach (December) each year. Last year saw the cancellations of all three physical editions of the events due to the pandemic. Now that the Hong Kong and Swiss fairs are pushed back this year, only time will tell whether Art Basel can proceed as scheduled with the show in Miami Beach - with Florida reporting 8,720 new COVID-19 cases on Monday.
“By moving our Basel fair to September, we hope to offer our galleries greater possibility for successfully preparing their year. Following ten months of vaccination programs in many countries, we anticipate broad international participation in our Basel show in September, because all our conversations within the artwork indicate a strong desire to see art in person and engage face-to-face with the global cultural scene,” said Marc Spiegler, Global Director of Art Basel.
Art Basel debuted its online viewing rooms last year
“Naturally, we will continue our digital activities connecting Art Basel galleries with global patrons, as we prepare our return to stage physical fairs in the post-pandemic period,” he added, referring to last year’s inaugural online viewing rooms (OVR), comprising live-streamed talks, gallery-led tours, studio visits, and performances that attracted some 480,000 viewers from around the world.
Instead of by locations like last year, this year's virtual realm goes by themes. The first one, “OVR: Pioneers” is set to run from March 24 to 27, featuring 100 galleries and is "dedicated to artists who have broken new grounds aesthetically, conceptually, or socio-politically." The second and third OVRs will go live from June 16 to 19 and the beginning of November respectively. More details will be announced at a later stage, so be sure to bookmark the Art Basel OVR website if you are interested.