Pyjamas and cava: the diary of an Art Basel VIP in an online world

A blow-by-blow account of the Hong Kong digital viewing rooms that launched this morning

Frederick Carl Frieseke's Lunch in Bed (1906)

Frederick Carl Frieseke's Lunch in Bed (1906)

Art Basel’s online viewing rooms, which were fast-tracked following the Hong Kong fair's cancellation, launched this morning. Here is an amusing account from an Art Newspaper insider about their first digital fair experience...

9.45am: Well this is easy. No flights. No jet-lag, no hotel room Chablis hangover from that interminably long gallery dinner last night. Just grab the laptop. Bugger, toast crumbs in the keyboard.

9.55am: Should I get dressed up? Seems little point. But can people see you? Don’t think so…pyjamas fine, no one will know. Think that’s some tea I spilt on them earlier. And jam. Consider brushing teeth and washing face for the occasion. Decide against it.

10am: All signed in and clicking furiously on “enter room”. Nothing... frozen screen.

10.10am: Still nothing. The dog needs to go out.

10.15am: Finally in… I think. But, as the actress said to the bishop, is that it? Am I in the room? Doesn’t look much like a room…

10.30am: Bit lonely in here. There’s no champagne. What’s a VIP preview without Ruinart? No canapes either….

10.45am: Decide to recreate some of the mood. A sense of occasion. Forage in fridge. Find bottle of cava. Pour into mug to save washing up.

10.50am: Cava, eurgh. As I’m so fond of telling people, I normally only drink blanc de blancs, darling. Better than nothing though. Go back to clicking. Forgotten whose gallery I’m in now. Is this White Cube? “Leave room”. Yes.

10.55am: Confused. Think I’m just on the website now. Not in the viewing room. Does anyone know the difference?

11am: Have another mug of cava for clarity. Tastes quite nice now. Eat some grissini I’d bought in case of lockdown... have a look in Lisson Gallery. Eat more grissini. Is that the Ocado delivery?

12pm: Finish the bottle of cava, a tin of stockpiled baked beans and three Kit Kats from emergency rations. Now quite drunk. Seem to have enquired about a $3m Koons, a Shrigley, I think a Dan Pendleton and I can’t really remember what else. I vaguely remember a banana but perhaps that was another time….where is add to cart?

12.15pm: Keep refreshing emails. No reply. What to do now…go to mirror and pull face back. Ponder an eyebrow lift.

12.30pm: Fall asleep on sofa, covered in grissini crumbs, remains of cava seep onto laptop. Zwirner emails me back about that Koons. I don’t see it.