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Peninsula Hong Kong heralds Art Basel with neon installation

May 12, 2014

Tracy Emin's "My Heart is With You Always," Tracy Emin's "My Heart is With You Always" on Peninsula Hotel Hong Kong


The Peninsula Hotel Hong Kong is inserting itself into the Art Basel conversation with an art installation projected onto the building's façade.

British artist Tracy Emin was enlisted to create the public art installation that aims to generate early interest in Art Basel May 15-18. The installation will remain on display from 7:00 p.m. to 12:00 p.m. through the art fair.

"This was the first time that an artwork has been projected onto The Peninsula's iconic tower, and we wanted to work with a globally renowned contemporary artist who had never created a public work of art in Hong Kong before," said Rainy Chan, general manager of of The Peninsula Hong Kong, Hong Kong.

"We were very open minded in our selection of the artist and believe that Tracey Emin was a perfect match, as her neon works fit with the urban landscape of Hong Kong, and echo a strong element of the city's visual identity," she said.

"With the opening of the M+ Museum for Visual Culture, which is a pivotal part of the upcoming West Kowloon Cultural District, The Peninsula is committed to making an important contribution to the art dialogue taking place in Kowloon and the city at large. We felt that Emin was the right artist to collaborate with to showcase My Heart is with You Always – a totally unique laser animation on the Tower for the collective enjoyment of Hong Kong. "

Always there

The installation seems relatively straightforward. A laser system projects a neon red heart with sharp contours surrounded by a hazy mist. The words "My Heart is With You Always," which is also the title, are inside the heart in pink script.

Ms. Emin's other neon pieces present similarly earnest messages such as "I Dream of Sleep," "I Kiss You" and "I Listen to the Ocean and All I Hear is You."

According to the hotel, "Emin’s art has always had its roots in the autobiographical, and her use of neon is reminiscent of the distinctive signs that clutter the seafront strip of her childhood home town of Margate, the once booming British resort. Like the neon lights of Hong Kong, such displays are at the service of advertising, while Emin reverses this and employs neon to communicate something both deeply personal and painfully tender."


Tracy Emin's "My Heart is With You Always" on Peninsula Hotel Hong Kong

Ms. Emin's "I Promise to Love You" installation lit up New York's Times Square in 2013 to much fanfare.

Leading up to Art Basel the installation will be moving around on the façade of The Peninsula's main tower. The art gallery White Cube will help maintain the installation.

Light installations can be found elsewhere during Art Basel. German artist Carsten Nicolai will drape the International Commerce Centre in pulsing light during the fair.

Peninsula's display is part of the hotel's "Love Art at The Peninsula" effort that celebrates artists through a series of exhibitions, events and culinary experiences.


Peninsula Hotel Hong Kong promotion

Other events include an art-themed menu featuring dishes inspired by Picasso, Matisse and Dali and an art dialogue with the hotel's academy program.

Peninsula Hotel Hong Kong has stoked interest in its property with projections in the past. For its 85th anniversary, the property projected a historical narrative of Hong Kong on its façade (see story).


85th anniversary projection

"The Peninsula Hong Kong is committed to creating meaningful art experiences for our guests and the public, whether on the facade of the hotel's Original Building to celebrate our 85th Anniversary in 2013," Ms. Chan said. "Or with the latest groundbreaking collaboration with Tracey Emin.

"And also in the hotel's Lobby, to coincide with this year's the Art Basel where, for the first time ever, The Peninsula Hotels will be showcasing a site-specific art installation by the Chinese contemporary artist Su Xiaobai," she said.

"His work, Three Hundred Leafs, will comprise two suspended hanging roofs and a central column of abandoned Qing dynasty roof tiles and is an unexpected and thought-provoking art installation greeting visitors to the hotel's Lobby.​"

Stop and stare

Projections are being used in interesting ways by other brands as well.

For instance, Audi of America celebrated the launch of its entry-level A3 model with hologram-enhanced performances by musicians M.I.A. and Janelle Monáe.

The automaker used 3D projection mapping technology to fuse together the events in New York and Los Angeles on April 3. As M.I.A. performed in New York and Janelle Monáe performed in Los Angeles, they were joined on stage by a real-time hologram version of the other (see story).

"These sorts of installations are always positive ways to promote local events and support the local communities," said Damon M. Banks, freelance journalist and media consultant, New York.

"While installations don't necessarily attract a great deal of traffic, it's always a positive way to celebrate these types of events," he said.

Final Take
Joe McCarthy, editorial assistant on Luxury Daily, New York