Artworld luminaries gather for Art Basel Hong Kong’s Conversations program – find out about this year’s highlights

Ellen Pau, Wu Tsang, Hans Ulrich Obrist, and Antonia Carver are among those who will take to the stage


Leading artists, curators, and thinkers of all stripes will once again congregate at Art Basel Hong Kong to exchange ideas in the show’s acclaimed Conversations program. Curated by writer and editor Stephanie Bailey, in collaboration with ArtAsiaPacific magazine (which is celebrating its 25th anniversary), this year’s edition addresses some of the urgent questions that have shaped the contemporary art discourse in Asia and beyond in recent months. New developments in the art market, the use of the body as medium, and contemporary forms of art activism are among the key topics to be debated on stage. To help you navigate Conversations’ rich program, here are some of the must-sees.

Stephanie Bailey, Art Basel Hong Kong's Conversations curator.
Stephanie Bailey, Art Basel Hong Kong's Conversations curator.

Institutional Practice is Creative Work | A Roundtable
Thursday, March 28, 5pm to 6:30pm

On Thursday morning, über curator Hans Ulrich Obrist will debate whether the work of institution leader is a creative activity in itself with such luminaries as Serpentine Galleries’ Yana Peel, Asia Art Archive’s Claire Hsu, Art Jameel’s Antonia Carver, Bangkok Art and Culture Centre’s Pawit Mahasarinand, and Doreen Sibanda, the director of the National Gallery of Zimbabwe. Starting from their individual experiences, the talk will unpack some of the challenges, new thinking, and creative freedoms afforded by such positions. 

Premier Artist Talk | Ellen Pau in conversation with Isaac Leung
Thursday, March 28, 6:30pm to 8pm

Ellen Pau is best-known as Hong Kong’s leading video artist – she represented the territory at the Venice Biennale in 2001 – but in many ways, her practice far exceeds art production. A writer, curator, institution director, and practicing radiologist, Pau has been a staunch supporter of artists working in new media. In Art Basel Hong Kong’s Premier Artist Talk, she’ll revisit her multifarious career with Isaac Leung, the chairman of Videotage, an institution she co-founded in 1986 and led herself for many years. Ellen Pau will discuss her many hats, the origins of Videotage, and its continuing relevance in today’s artistic landscape.

A Common Place? | Artists in Art Fairs
Friday, March 29, 2pm to 3:30pm

Artists Hai-Hsin Huang, Elmgreen & Dragset, and Iván Navarro, and curator and writer Paco Barragán will debate art fairs beyond their obvious role as platforms for commercial transactions, and ask about the possibilities for artistic and intellectual production in such a context. 

Artist duo Elmgreen & Dragset, participants to Art Basel Hong Kong's Conversations program.
Artist duo Elmgreen & Dragset, participants to Art Basel Hong Kong's Conversations program.

Body Work | Performance and Practice
Friday, March 29, 3:30pm to 5pm

Moderated by artist Wu Tsang – whose work is currently on view at the 14th edition of the Sharjah Biennial – this talk gathers performance artists from around the world and across generations. Juliana Huxtable, Melati Suryodarmo, Sonia Khurana, and Victoria Sin reflect on their individual practices and the body as both a medium for artistic expression and vehicle for research.

A Region in Plural | Curating ‘Asia’ Now
Saturday, March 30, 12:30pm to 2pm

Curators from or working in Asia will talk about being mediators for a region characterized by its cultural multiplicity. National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art Seoul’s Joowon Park, Rockbund Art Museum Shanghai’s Hsieh Feng-Rong, M+ curators Pauline J. Yao and Shirley Surya, as well as Natasha Ginwala, the artistic director of the Gwangju Biennale 2020, will discuss their approaches to curating in the Asian context and what their roles are in generating new modes of understanding for contemporary art in the region.

On Isamu Noguchi | Danh Vo and Doryun Chong in conversation
Saturday, March 30, 3:30pm to 5pm

On the occasion of his current exhibition ‘Noguchi for Danh Vo: Counterpoint’ on view at the M+ pavilion, artist Danh Vo will discuss the work of celebrated artist-cum-designer Isamu Noguchi with M+ deputy director Doryun Chong. Reflecting on his own practice in relation to Noguchi’s, Vo will present his work and role as an artist-curator in the context of the M+ exhibition.

Natasha Ginwala, artistic director of the Gwangju Biennale 2020.
Natasha Ginwala, artistic director of the Gwangju Biennale 2020.

Discover the full Conversations program here.

Top image: Artist Victoria Sin, Rockbund Art Museum Shanghai’s Hsieh Feng-Rong, and M+ curator Shirley Surya.