The South China Morning Post makes some interesting points about the ongoing battle between Hong Kong and Singapore to gain cultural dominance over art in Asia.
Hong Kong has the market traffic but Singapore has sprinted ahead in creating cultural infrastructure like museums:
While Hong Kong makes halting progress on its cultural infrastructure – the West Kowloon Arts Hub, announced under the first post-handover administration, still lacks a single piece of completed infrastructure – Singapore has been churning out dedicated to the arts, including the 2002 opening of the Esplanade theatres and the 2011 launch of the futuristic ArtScience Museum , shaped like a lotus flower on stilts, by the Marina Bay Sands casino complex.
Both places face censorship but in Singapore the constraints can be more than just political:
Susie Lingham, who is stepping down as director of the Singapore Art Museum in March, says the city’s first dedicated art museum had come under increasingly tight government oversight since 2013.
Finally, the recently completed Art Stage Singapore is losing momentum after seeing a dramatic 20% drop in attendance to 40,500 this year from last year’s record 51,000.
Aenon Loo, associate director of White Cube Hong Kong, headed the gallery’s booth at Art Stage. He says he has yet to see sustained growth in the fair that propelled ArtHK into today’s Art Basel Hong Kong. The gallery hasn’t decided whether to take part in next year’s Art Stage after a five-year presence, he adds.
Vincent Chan, co-owned of Leo Gallery in Hong Kong and Shanghai, says he was “disappointed” in the transaction volume. “The application fee in Singapore isn’t much cheaper than Art Basel in Hong Kong, but there’s a lot less traffic. It was much quieter than in 2014, when I last had a booth here,” he says. The timing of this year’s show may have been unfortunate, coinciding with plunges in global stock markets.
Chan thinks Art Basel Hong Kong in March will be more resilient. “It’s simply that major southeast Asian collectors attend so many other art fairs elsewhere. Singapore just isn’t a must,” he adds.
Singapore turning into arts hub while Hong Kong still stuck in mud (South China Morning Post)