Leading international live marketing group behind Art Basel plans to expand their global presence through a network of regional art fairs.

In a recent announcement, MCH Group stated its intention to build “a new portfolio of regional art fairs”, which could mean the establishment of new ones or partnering with existing local ones.

Yuan Keru, 'The Symposium', 2015, 11m:22s, L-Art Gallery, Film Sector 2016, Art Basel Hong Kong. Image courtesy the artist and the gallery.

Yuan Keru, ‘The Symposium’, 2015, 11m:22s, L-Art Gallery, Film Sector 2016, Art Basel Hong Kong. Image courtesy the artist and the gallery.

The Swiss expo conglomerate MCH Group (MCH), which describes itself as “a leading international group of live-marketing companies” and is the owner of the Art Basel brand of art fairs, has recently announced its plans to expand into the global art market.

Enhancing its presence globally will involve building a new portfolio of regional art fairs, through joint ventures, acquisitions and new art fair launches.

According to the press release, the development of the regional portfolio will not affect Art Basel and its network of art fairs in Basel, Miami Beach and Hong Kong. The new initiative will be independent and will not expand Art Basel into new art fairs, but will work with regional art fairs “operated by separate, locally located and autonomous teams”.

MCH is currently in discussion with potential partners and art fair organisers around the world, such as SME London, which manages Art16 in London, Hong Kong’s Art Central and Sydney Contemporary, and Angus Montgomery, whose roster includes the India Art Fair, Istanbul’s Art International and Photo Shanghai. MCH acquired a majority stake ART HK in 2011, founded by Tim Etchells (owner of SME) and Chairman of Angus Montgomery Sandy Angus, turning it later into Art Basel Hong Kong.

Marco Fazzone, Managing Director of Design and Regional Art Fairs, MCH Group. Image courtesy MCH Group.

Marco Fazzone, Managing Director of Design and Regional Art Fairs, MCH Group. Image courtesy MCH Group.

The announcement does not clarify which regions will be targeted, but as reported by The Art Newspaper, a spokeswoman for MCH has said that the plan has no restrictions on the number or location of art fairs it seeks to establish, as long as Art Basel’s territories remain ‘untouched’.

The “strategic initiative” will be headed by a new business unit called Design and Regional Art Fairs, managed by Managing Director, Marco Fazzone. This unit is also currently managing MCH’s participation in Design Miami and Design Miami Basel. Fazzone told Artnet News:

MCH group believes in a strong art market and a strong regional art fair market. They are very important.

Beirut Art Fair, 2015. Image courtesy Beirut Art Fair.

Beirut Art Fair, 2015. Image courtesy Beirut Art Fair.

Beirut Art Fair announces programme for 2016

The MCH news might spark speculation on which existing, regional art fairs might be within reach of its plans and might already be a target for partnership and development. The regional Beirut Art Fair, this year at its seventh edition, comes to mind as one of the possible candidates for this new venture, although its founder Laure d’Hauteville is adamant about keeping it different from the fair giants like Art Basel or FIAC. Established, with a local flavour, it is successful in the region and promotes a “beyond stereotypes and ‘fashionable’ productions, beyond ideologies, religions, and political views” vision.

The Beirut Art Fair has recently announced its programme. Running from 15 to 18 September 2016, the Fair will continue to function as a catalyst for artistic development in the MENASA region. Historically a bridge between East and West, Beirut offers the right environment for an ongoing cultural exchange.

Beirut Art Fair, 2015. Image courtesy Beirut Art Fair.

Beirut Art Fair, 2015. Image courtesy Beirut Art Fair.

The seventh  Beirut Art Fair will inaugurate the Revealing section, in which galleries can present promising, emerging artists. There will also be an exhibition of Lebanese modern art, “Lebanon Modern”, highlighting and introducing influential artists from 20th century modernist currents in Lebanon.

Last year, the fair featured a digital art exhibition, “Virtual Reality”, presenting some leading contemporary artists creating interactive, digital experiences. This year, the fair presents “Video Box”, with a selection of works by leading MENASA video artists addressing issues ranging from society to politics and memory.

In 2016, the Byblos Bank Award for Photography will come back for its fifth edition. The Award gives emerging Lebanese photographers access to the experts, gallerists, collectors and media who comprise the heart of the photography market in Lebanon. Past winners include Carmen Yahchouhi (2015), Myriam Boulos (2014), Ghaleb Cabbabé (2013) and Dory Younes (2012).

C. A. Xuan Mai Ardia

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Related Topics: art fairs, art prizes, news, events in Lebanon, events in Hong Kong

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Brittney

By Brittney

Brittney is a writer, curator and contemporary art gallerist. Born in Singapore and based in New York City, Brittney maintains a deep interest in the contemporary art landscape of Southeast Asia. This is combined with an equally strong interest in contemporary art from the Asian diasporas, alongside the issues of identity, transmigration and global relations.

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