This year’s Hong Kong edition of Art Basel, a massive Swiss art fair and one of the premier events of the international art world, will be commemorating the late Iranian filmmaker Abbas Kiarostami by exhibiting his final photography series, Variety reports. Though the auteur was best known for his work in cinema, he was also active in other media ranging from poetry to installation art.
When Kiarostami passed away on July 4 of last year, he left an unfillable void in the film community. In his self-conscious manipulation of and inquiry into the thin line separating documentary from fiction, the filmmaker demonstrated a profound understanding of the limits and potential of cinema as both a form of artistic expression and a mode of social and political engagement. Normally, such self-reflexivity creates distance between the viewer and the characters/documentary subjects, but with Kiarostami, the opposite occurs. By foregrounding the camera’s role in helping us know the characters and identify with them, Kiarostami reveals his filmmaking to be an active attempt at empathy, and invites us to respond with similar compassion. Through his work, Kiarostami has touched so many people. It only feels right that he will be commemorated at an art event as high-profile as Art Basel.
In addition to the Kiarostami exhibit, which will be presented by the gallery Rossi & Rossi, Art Basel’s Hong Kong show will be exhibiting various moving image works within its expanded film section, from Hong Kong artist Lee Kit’s video installation “It Was a Cinema” (2016) to “Happy Bed” (2014), a five-minute video work from Chinese artist Wang Qinsong.
Art Basel: Hong Kong will run from March 23-25.