Cathedral of Shit

has taken a well earned GAP year

Final word on Ai Wei Wei and Art HK (hopefully)

Posted by cathedralofshit on May 19, 2011

Over here at CoS Towers we’ve got absolutely no desire to get into an argument about contemporary Chinese politics with anyone – and actually admire the Lisson for outlining their position on Art HK in the press release they sent out yesterday.

But – and we promise this is the last we’ll say on it – exhibiting in Hong Kong right now isn’t totally straightforward if you have an issue with China’s human right’s record. Yes, it is a special administrative region in China with a better human rights record, greater democracy and a tolerance of dissent that is absent on the mainland..But increasingly both Hong Kong-based commentators and Chinese dissidents are arguing that Hong Kong’s autonomy is being steadily eroded by Beijing. Dr Wang Dan, who was one of the leading student organiser of the 1989 Tiananmen Square was recently banned to travelling to a funeral of a dissident in Hong Kong and argued, “incident further proves that ‘one country, two systems’ is a lie, and we can officially announce the death of the system”.

His argument generated plenty of publicity. Another commentator writing in the Hong Kong Journal, Frank Ching, recently argued: “More than 13 years after Hong Kong’s reversion to Chinese sovereignty, there has been a visible narrowing of the autonomy promised to the former British colony.”

So, basically, it’s complex. This isn’t a problem if you haven’t got an issue with China’s human rights abuses – and plenty of commercial galleries haven’t. Peculiarly, it’s more of a problem for those galleries who have, to their credit, gone on the record as disagreeing with China’s human rights record and in particular, the imprisonment of Ai Wei Wei. Which goes to prove, it’s not easy having a moral compass and working in the commercial art world – good luck to those, such as the Lisson, who seem to.

Now, back to the real issues. In Brian Sewell’s fantastic new Emin review – the words thaumaturge, concupiscence, aedicula, ekphrastic, panjandrum. There’s a man that knows (and ignores) his audience. Highly recommended.

6 Responses to “Final word on Ai Wei Wei and Art HK (hopefully)”

  1. Nomad said

    The art fair is the new biennial and loads have opened over the last few years, (The Hot Art Fair in Mexico and the Indonesia Art Fair in 2010; Art Beijing opened in 2009; the India Art Summit, and the Joburg Art Fair in 2008; Art Dubai in 2007 and Art Fair Tokyo and Contemporary Istanbul in 2005, etc). The Lisson tested the international-fair waters in 2009 by taking Anish Kapoor over to India for the Art Summit. They made a killing and helped Kapoor get a major solo in the National Gallery in Delhi a year later. (HUO and Nicolas Bourriaud both gave talks at the same fair that year… Yick.)

    By signing international big-hitters onto their rosters galleries get their stands at the international fairs. The Lisson also took on Pakistani Rashid Rana in March – yeah they might well like his work, but his presence on the books also guarantees them a space at Art Dubai next year. The Lisson therefore end up grabbing stands off the regional galleries who would otherwise represent Rana and who end up being totally out-priced by Logsdail’s presence. Kapoor’s uglies in Delhi were the most expensive works in the fair because of international price gaps and the Euro-marketing fame-machine – not because they were any better than other works on the stands. Yet he ends up seeming more important than he is and the gallery looks really fucking mighty and superior in a foreign environment… What’s worse (in a neocolonial and artistic sense), is that artists like Julian Opie find new audiences by getting in on it too. *Shudder to think.

  2. D said

    you don’t need to rashid rana on your books to get a stand at Art Dubai…or any other ‘international big hitters’ to get into these fairs in new markets. And taking Kapoor to India art fair is no brainer, not some sort of conspiracy

  3. am said

    Nice comment. Lisson charts the application of partial comprehension with aggressive posturing over their history, and that amounts to how a chunk of the contemporary art world identifies or doormats itself, nearly. I think it’s connected (Ikea’s apparent imperialism), so I offer the following link from a Mark Liberman post on something called ‘Language Log’ (it’s a couple of years old)

  4. Wackshank said

    Can no simply exchange the detention of Ai Wei Wei with the chinese authorities for Anish Kapoor ? then nobody will be complaining ….

  5. Fumer said

    But what about Brian and Tracey?

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