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“Last time I came to Hong Kong I was sixteen, and that was in 1961,” recalled the Indian artist Nalini Malani last Sunday. “I had just finished high school, so my mother wanted to reward me with a trip, but nowhere too far. She said: Here is a ticket, I have friends there you can stay with.” It took fifty-five years for another auspicious occasion to return. But what an occasion it was. Three hundred of us were about to be seated in the Grand Ballroom of the Conrad Hotel for Asia Society’s gala honoring Malani as well as Cai Guo-Qiang and Yoshitomo Nara—also celebrating the august and essential institution’s sixtieth year. The dinner was a mellow warmup to the Art Basel Hong Kong jamboree, now in its fourth iteration.
The next night just about every gallery in town opened their doors to stragglers who made their way through a tropical downpour. Tracey Emin gave a talk at the Four Seasons for her double show at Lehmann Maupin and White Cube: “Art should make people stand still and be quiet,” she said. Tough luck in this town, though I was, quite incredibly, able to enact Emin’s words while taking in Laurent Grasso’s powerful new film Élysée at Edouard Malingue.