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What to Expect At Hong Kong Art Week Parties

ByYunyi Lau
What to Expect At Hong Kong Art Week Parties

"Cooking the World" by Subodh Gupta (Image courtesy of Galleria Continua)

In a blink of an eye, we’re a good way into the first quarter of 2018, which means Hong Kong Art Week is almost here! This year’s programme is set to be bigger than the last, with more openings, more exhibitions, more events and of course, more parties! If you haven’t yet received an invite to one of the exhibition openings or art parties, don’t worry – there’s still time. Here is our guide on how to get in the door and what to do once you’re through!


Getting in Touch

Sometimes it’s just about knowing who to contact in order to get invited to events. Call up the galleries that are hosting the exhibition opening you want to attend or, even better, if they have a PR team, contact them directly. Be polite and express your genuine interest in the event, but don’t be pushy.

Contact the galleries or PR team to find out how to score your invite.
Image courtesy of Knakorn Kachacheewa

You've Got Mail

If you visit galleries on a regular basis, it’s always good to leave your details in the visitor guest book or sign up to their mailing lists. Often, galleries send out updates about events and openings throughout the year directly to your inbox – no effort needed! If it’s too late to do this, sign up anyway to get notified for the next edition of Art Week and other art events throughout the year.

Is your name on one of those letters?
Image courtesy of Lee Ming Wei and Jane Lombard Gallery

Phone a Friend

Know people who regularly circulate in the art scene, be it art writers, collectors, curators and artists? Sometimes it’s good to tap into your network. Find out which parties and events your friends would be heading to and see if you can join as a plus one, but do not call up your gallerist acquaintance you have never bought works from and harass them for a VIP pass to Art Basel Hong Kong.

When you're going through your phonebook trying to find someone who can get you guest list
Image courtesy of Entang Wiharso and ARNDT

So, you’ve finally gotten invited, what do you do now?



Once you’ve received an invite, it’s always polite to respond and let the organiser know you’ll be attending - nothing is more awkward than standing at the door and insisting your name is on the list. It’s also a way for the gallery to know how many people to expect and prepare enough drinks and handouts. At the same time, it’s not nice to RSVP and tell them you’ll be bringing 10 other friends, demanding they put your accountant, your sister’s ex-boyfriend and your uncle on the list.

Trying to negotiate your crew into the party when they're not on the list
Image courtesy of Boulin Info

Dress Code

Art events are usually an opportunity to show your own artistic flair with your outfit choice, and the art world appreciates fashion risks. However, always remember to look out for dress codes on the invitation, and if there isn’t one then just go with your common sense - no one expects you to wear a gown to an exhibition opening in Sham Shui Po (but if that’s your thing, then let your glam flag fly high!), but always be tasteful.

Take a cue from these sculptures from Entang Wiharso at the Arario Gallery booth at Art basel Hong Kong last year.
Image courtesy of Jessica Hromas for Art Basel

What to Bring

A shoulder bag is always a good option at these events. Having both hands free (one to hold your champagne and the other to shake hands with new introductions) is essential - do not bring a backpack and if you absolutely must, leave it at the cloakroom or hold it in your hand. Also, remember to bring name cards, because you never know who you’ll encounter at these events, and always carry some cash, as you might find yourself at an event that doesn’t offer an open bar.

Even better if your shoulder bag is a pumpkin-shaped minaudière from Yayoi Kusama's collaboration with Louis Vuitton
Image courtesy of Luxury Launches

Some rules of etiquette on the night itself...


Art is Sacred

Rushing straight from a long day at the Hong Kong Convention Centre, galleries often provide refreshments for their guests at openings. Feel free to help yourself to a glass of red wine and some canapes, but whatever you do, do not eat or drink near the art. Absolutely do not touch the art, and also do not get drunk on the free booze, disturbing the peace by loudly asking the gallerist if he would give you a solo exhibition based on some oils you painted while you were going through a rough divorce.

When your drink starts too look like a work of art, you've probably had too much.
Image courtesy of Hypebeast

I'm (Not) Ready for My Close Up

Hong Kong Art Week can be quite glamorous with celebrities flying in for parties, events and openings. Unless the celebrity has been hired for the event as a DJ or singer, they are often at these events on their own personal time. Do not stick your iPhone in their face and demand a wefie. Same goes if you meet David Zwirner at the opening of the new H Queens outpost of his gallery - we understand the admiration, but control yourself!

Ask politely before you decide to take a we-fie with a celebrity or artist like Lapo Elkann did with Ai Weiwei
Image courtesy of Facebook

Winning Friends and Influencing Art People

Engage with the artists or curators and really try to learn more about the art world! Keep an open mind, ask thoughtful questions and listen attentively. Do not ask every single one of the gallery or catering staff out for dinner before the night is through. Similarly, do not harass them by making lewd and inappropriate comments or make them uncomfortable by undressing them with your eyes. The art world is a small place and news travels fast - you really don’t want to be known as the leery guest and get blacklisted from these events for life.

When some guy tries to slide into your DMs at an art party and you're just like "NO"
Image courtesy of Jirapat Tatsanasomboon



For more Hong Kong Art Week 2018 coverage, head here.

Any views or opinions in the post are solely those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of the company or contributors.

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