Organizers Cancel Art Basel Hong Kong Due to Coronavirus

The 2021 edition of the art fair is still on schedule

Art Basel Hong Kong
Art Basel Hong Kong in 2015. This year's event was cancelled due to the coronavirus outbreak.
Wing1990hk/Creative Commons

Art Basel Hong Kong was slated to take place in late March of this year at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre. But there are times when the art world’s priorities are outweighed by global health concerns, and this is one of them. Concerns over the spread and impact of coronavirus have prompted the event’s organizers to cancel this year’s event, which they did via a statement on Thursday.

In the press release, MCH Group, which organizes Art Basel, emphasized the safety concerns that surrounded this year’s edition of the art fair. The press release also notes that the next iteration of Art Basel Hong Kong is set to take place in 2021, from March 25 to 27.

Numerous factors informed this decision, including fundamental concern for the health and safety of all those working at and attending the fair; the severe logistical challenges facing the build-out and transit of artwork to the show; and the escalating difficulties complicating international travel, all arising as a result of the outbreak of the coronavirus.

At Hyperallergic, Valentina Di Liscia analyzed the decision to cancel this year’s event. Her article also suggests that other reasons might be in play as well.

MCH’s statement does not make any mention of ongoing protests in Hong Kong or the political conditions affecting the city, the initial reason a group of galleries signed a letter of concern to Art Basel three weeks ago.

At this point, those concerns seem to be dovetailing with one another in an unsettling manner. The coronavirus outbreak has had a serious effect on Hong Kong in recent weeks, compounding the tensions that emerged through many months of protests. It’s another addition to the tumult that has abounded in the city since last year.

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