Art market

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)

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.