For Dealers Unable to Travel Internationally, Art Basel Hong Kong Has an Intriguing Option: The Ghost Booth

These days, it seems like every missive from art-fair organizers confidently predicting a set of firm dates is invariably followed by news of yet another postponement. But organizers of the Art Basel Hong Kong fair, due to take place from May 21 to 23, have dreamed up a new approach to remain on schedule: offering exhibitors the opportunity to participate in the fair even if travel restrictions make their physical attendance impossible.

Enter: the ghost booth.

According to a letter sent to exhibitors today from director Adeline Ooi, dealers now have the option to amend their proposals to present “a small curated exhibition within a standalone booth.” They can choose between a booth measuring either 15 by 20 square meters or 20 by 25 square meters that will be staffed by assistants appointed by Art Basel.

“We hope that this satellite option allows exhibitors to continue their onsite presence without physically attending the show,” the letter states.

Since the pivot to purely virtual editions largely been deemed a failure by collectors and participants alike, this option—call it the ghost booth—just might be a viable stopgap as vaccines are distributed and lockdowns begin to lift piecemeal.

The smaller size ghost booth will have a flat rate of $9,500; the larger option is priced at $11,500. Art Basel said each size would be fully equipped and include an assistant to “facilitate connection between visitors and the gallery.” Depending on the number of galleries that take them up on the option, the booths might be either grouped together or sprinkled across the show.

There is, however, one catch: “Exhibitors must ensure that a gallery sales representative remains on-call at all times throughout the opening hours of the show.” (The only thing better than traveling to Hong Kong is being available on Hong Kong hours during East Coast time, right?)

Interested exhibitors must submit amended proposals—which may “deviate significantly” from their original applications—by March 4.

Organizers also reminded exhibitors of an existing “joint-booth option” within the main galleries sector, where two or more exhibitors can participate in a single booth of any size.

Art Basel Hong Kong is currently scheduled to take place at the Hong Kong Exhibition and Convention Centre from May 21–May 23, 2021.

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