Art Basel Hong Kong Will Have More Than 30 Additional Exhibitors Than Last Year—and Way More ‘Ghost Booths,’ Too

The fair’s organizers also announced a contingency plan should the event, currently set for late March, need to be postponed.

Visitors to Art Basel Hong Kong, 2021. (Photo by Miguel Candela/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

Art Basel has released a full list of its Hong Kong exhibitors for the 2022 edition of the fair, and it includes 137 galleries from 28 countries and territories.

But not unlike last year’s event, this year’s show will be shaped by the seemingly never-ending coronavirus pandemic and resulting travel restrictions.

The fair, currently scheduled to take place from March 24 to March 26 at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre, is larger than last year’s by around 30 percent (104 dealers set up booths in 2021). The figure is an encouraging development for fair organizers, even if the total group of exhibitors remains down from the 242 dealers from 36 countries that showed in 2019.

Significantly, the 2022 edition will include 82 “ghost booths,” or standalone stalls staffed not by gallery employees, but by local assistants appointed by Art Basel. That figure represents a 43 percent increase from 2021, which included 57 “ghost booths.” 

So while exhibitor figures are up, the number of dealers actually making the trip to the harbor city remains depressed.

Part of the problem is travel restrictions, which are subject to change with little, if any, notice.

Visitors to Art Basel Hong Kong, 2021. (Photo by Miguel Candela/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

Visitors to Art Basel Hong Kong, 2021. (Photo by Miguel Candela/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

Incoming flights from eight countries, including the United States, the United Kingdom, and France, are currently suspended in Hong Kong. That ban is set to expire this week, but the prospect of entering the country remains daunting: anyone else currently entering Hong Kong from a “high-risk country” is required to quarantine for three weeks upon entry. 

In a statement, Art Basel’s global director, Marc Spiegler, praised exhibitors’ willingness to play ball, despite the obvious obstacles.

“It is inspiring to see the amazing commitment and surging number of galleries participating in our Hong Kong show, despite the current challenges and uncertainties,” he said. “This stands as testament to the show’s continued role as a vital platform for cultural exchange in the region.”

This edition will include 16 newcomers, including Galería Cayón (Madrid), Gallery Vazieux (Paris), Jason Haam (Seoul), and Catinca Tabacaru (Bucharest).  Among the returning names are 47 Canal (New York), Esther Schipper (Berlin), David Kordansky Gallery (Los Angeles), and Pearl Lam Galleries (Hong Kong). 

Smartly, the fair’s organizers have also tentatively booked the Convention and Exhibition Centre for a period of time in May—a contingency plan should the March event need to be postponed.

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