Now into her third year of curating Art Basel in Hong Kong's Encounters sector, Alexie Glass-Kantor, the Sydney-based Executive Director of Artspace, is exploring new meanings behind the concept of an 'encounter'. This year, through 17 large-scale sculptures and installations, she investigates the relationship between time and experience, how it is represented in art, and the influence of history, politics, and culture.
Of meridians and meanings
'I wanted to consider the meridians upon which the Encounters are located,' says Glass-Kantor. In doing so, she was particularly interested in the ways in which a 'meridian' can be defined. 'We trace time through the earth’s meridian, a constant longitude passing along the surface of any place in the world, [while] in Chinese medicine meridians are pathways where vital energy is channeled within the body,' she explains. 'Constantly in flow, meridians are ever-expanding and folding to shift around and within us.'
For Encounters at Art Basel in Hong Kong, Glass-Kantor has identified the show's four dividing boulevards, which host the installations, as its meridians. Each artwork, including a hidden Encounter exhibited in a space beyond the show floor, serves as a landmark within the passage of the show. 'They should be touchstones, so that visitors recall them as distinct moments in their own experience,' she says. 'Artworks, like meridians, are markers of time: they accumulate time, they are temporal, and they manifest time into space as we wander within and around them.'
A unique platform
The moment when all her ideas come together as an installation – what Glass-Kantor calls 'meeting the show' – can be both nerve-wracking and exhilarating. With twelve newly commissioned works premiering in Encounters in March, this year promises to be particularly exciting. 'It won’t be until we arrive at the venue for installation that Encounters will gain its full definition. And with only 27.5 hours for the installation of works that are up to 700 cubic meters, it is an accelerated pace – but I love a challenge!'
What’s more, this year Glass-Kantor has included projects from six countries that she has never before curated in the sector: Pakistan, Thailand, Taiwan, the Philippines, Tibet, and Vietnam. 'Every year, Art Basel Hong Kong expands further into new contexts,' she says. '[The show] is a unique platform for collectors, networks, and audiences to immerse themselves in an intelligent and dynamic space for art – and Encounters.'