Chanel Mobile Art opens in Hong Kong!

chanel mobile art hong kong hk zaha hadid karl lagerfeld
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Last week I booked a ticket to check out the Chanel Mobile Art exhibition on opening day, Wednesday, February 27th. Getting there today was easy. Starting from the Chanel store in Central, I walked under the footbridge to get to the pavilion. The way was well labeled with signs.

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Once inside the tunnel you take the second right and walk towards City Hall. Near the beginning of the parking structure I found the entranceway staircase and proceeded up.

I arrived early so that I could admire Zaha Hadid’s contemporary art container before heading inside. From its perch on top of a parking garage in the middle of Central, the Chanel Mobile Art pavilion has some pretty famous neighbors.

Gazing around there are buildings by I.M. Pei (the Bank of China,) and Norman Foster (HSBC Main Branch,) just a few blocks away.

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I took photos of the futuristic structure next to other Hong Kong landmarks like the eighty-eight story IFC2 which looms above.

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In Hong Kong, the tickets to the exhibition are free, but there is a $10 HKD processing charge for booking. The reason you need to book a ticket is to reserve a time slot. This is necessary since the walk through the exhibit incorporates a timed audio soundtrack. An important thing to realize is that it’s not an audio tour, it’s the audio portion of the exhibition. If you start exploring prematurely, you will throw off the experience and miss the interesting sound-scapes that were created to compliment the artwork.

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Arriving at the first check point, you wait until they let you enter the check-in area. After presenting your ticket you can enter the coat check to check your bag. No cell phones, cameras, or large bags are allowed in the exhibition.

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Next you exit again to proceed to the entrance just a few steps away. Here you are fitted with a set of headphones and a special mp3 player. As you receive the mp3 player, the attendees ask you which language you prefer. For Hong Kong I believe the choices included English, Cantonese and Mandarin, though they may include the languages of the additional countries on the international tour. Don’t be surprised if you’re asked to wait during the check-in process, they stagger the crowd to make it a comfortable viewing experience.

The first dialog you hear is a woman with a raspy voice, almost like the female equivalent of a Russ Meyer narration! The exhibition starts as you turn a corner and enter the first space. The floor below you is decorated in mosaics and there are several mobiles hanging. Here is where you need to get synchronized with the audio sound-scape. Don’t start exploring without hearing the cue instructing you to climb the stairs. The timing for the exhibition is well thought out and easy to follow once you adjust to it. Wait for the audio cues about when to leave. It gives very specific directions.

I don’t think it’s proper for me to give away any spoilers about the art inside, so I won’t do any detailed descriptions. The artwork is mostly installations, where the artist has created a space to amplify the experience, rather than simply leaving you to stare at a static canvas or frame.

The curator, Fabrice Bousteau, did an excellent job assembling a range of artists who interpreted the Chanel theme in a very loose way. Each artist went about their project from a different angle. The show is a success in its diversity.

Highlights for me included a 360 degree projection that worked well with the music; an interesting installation based on a reflection by Leandro Erlich; the Nobuyoshi Araki film; Lee Bul, an artist from South Korea’s use of details and space in her installation; and an over-sized Chanel bag with an exceptional video (both in content and tone) that was looped inside.

The last stage of the exhibition takes place under the pavilion’s atrium. This is where the clear sky-roof panels are visible when the pavilion is seen from above.

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I actually went through the exhibit twice – once with the audio accompaniment and another time without any audio. The second time around I had more of a chance to take in small things on my own and to admire the wonders of the art container, which may be the real star of the show.

Looking around the interior of the building it didn’t disappoint. Inside it was a swirl of complex angles with interesting details. Even for a temporary structure, there were small elements such as Chanel-style quilted paneling and interesting railings in places. Just when you think you’d encounter a straight line, there would be another twist or curve. Part of the fascination with this is that most of our environments are confined to four straight walls at right angles. There wasn’t a single conventional space like that in Zaha Hadid’s pavilion.

At the end of the tour you’re presented with a special magazine – Hong Kong Chanel Mobile Art Issue #1. Exiting, I spent a few minutes walking around the perimeter of the structure taking photos before departing. With the exhibition open until April 5th, I’ll be back!

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For more information check out my previous post here, or go to the Chanel Mobile Art website.

Featured artists include: Lee Bul, Daniel Buren, Blue Noses, David Levinthal, Fabrice Hyber, Leandro Erlich, Loris Cecchini, Michael Lin, Nobuyoshi Araki, Pierre & Gilles, Sophie Calle, Soju Tao, Stephen Shore, Subodh Gupta, Sylvie Fleury, Tabaimo, Wim Delvoye, Yang Fudong, Yoko Ono, and Y.Z. Kami.

The audio accompaniment was put together by Stephan Crasneanscki of Soundwalk.

17 Comments

  • Haha…the first impression when I looked at this project I thought “wow it’s so Zara Hadid” and I was right! lol Too bad there aren’t any pics of the interiors. Personally I’m not crazy over her style but it’s still amazing to see. Thanks for the article!

  • Hey, if you remember i emailed you several weeks back from Singapore. Thankyou so much for introducing the exhibition to us, it was really an absolutely amazing experience! Wow your aerial view photos, are they taken from a neighbouring building?

    We just came back from HK, had a fabulous time and will definitely be going back soon!

  • Hi Mariya,

    Regarding the lack of photos of the interior, there are no cameras allowed inside the pavilion, plus it would be disrespectful of me to sneak photos of the inside of the building and the exhibit. Part of the excitement of attending is discovering what’s inside the futuristic shell.

  • Hi Yiwei,

    Yes, the aerial photos are taken from a building next to the parking garage. It’s a high-rise public library and I shot from inside the stairwell! I’m glad you enjoyed the exhibition and had fun in Hong Kong!

  • hey, sounds like an amazing exhibition, would like to check it out. in addition, i just wondered about the limit age of 18 years old! is that really a big deal? im 16, and an art student at ESF school, but i would Love to see it. would it be possible ? Also i was wondering if any of the deginers will be there, as it would be great to meet them!

  • Hi Mars,

    I think you should go to check it out. Don’t worry about the age thing. There’s some minor nudity, and that’s why it’s there. I doubt if anyone’s going to i.d. you. You can reserve your ticket online and then pick it up. The designers aren’t around at the moment, but perhaps they will be next month. Hope you get a chance to catch it!

  • Hi, i love yr page! I’m from Singapore and I will be visiting Hong Kong end of march! I’ve even booked the ticket for this exhibition. Anyway, I’ve no idea on what to wear? I’ll be there 26th Mar. Is it gonna be hot? I heard it’s a little bit chilling, will a light jacket or thick cardigan suffice? What’s the temperature in celcius like?

  • Hi Robert,

    You might try going to the booth outside the exhibition during an off hour (when most people are working,) and see if they can hook you up. Because the tickets are so cheap, people may have booked them and end up not going. Perhaps they’ll let you in if the time is filled with no-shows.

    Good luck!

  • Please advise me – this exhibition on Chanel Mobile Art . Is it still opened for viewing in the Month of November, 2008.

  • Hi, I just found your HP when searching about Chanel Mobile Art. It’s a nice page with lots of photos. The venue in HK looks like so cool surrounded by buildings!
    It’s just started in Tokyo now, also getting harder to get a ticket as well.

  • hi! i am from Toronto and am looking to go to this exhibit when it arrives in New York. When you say “reserve tickets online” do you mean at chanel.com ? or is there another website? i am having a hard time locating them and i want to get them as soon as possible! thanks so much

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