October 2nd 2013 By Crystal Wilde
This week Hong Kong welcomes the third instalment of the Asia Contemporary Art Show, a showcase of beautiful works from across the world. But with 2,000 pieces from 73 galleries in 15 countries set to be on display, getting everything together under one roof is no mean feat. Just one day before the show opens, we grabbed a rushed word with logistics sponsor AGS Four Winds as they busy themselves behind the scenes of one of the city’s biggest art events.
With 128 locations in more than 80 countries across the world, AGS Four Winds is no stranger to the ins and outs of moving. Over the almost-40 years since its founding, the French-owned business has successfully shipped everything from Formula 1 cars to the entire Moulin Rouge show over international borders. But now the Hong Kong team is facing a new challenge as logistics sponsor of the upcoming Asia Contemporary Art Show (ACAS), taking place between October 3rd and 6th at the JW Marriott in Pacific Place.
Hundreds of paintings, sculptures and photographs in varying shapes and sizes are currently flooding into the city from Asia, Europe, South Africa, the US and Australia. For the past three weeks, the Hong Kong team has been receiving the works and storing them in their 20,000 square-foot warehouse in the New Territories.
Before the show starts, AGS will be charged with delivering each piece to one of 72 hotel rooms specially reserved so the work can be viewed in a situational setting. When it’s all over on October 7th, the team will have just half a day to carefully repack the works, either for delivery to their new owners or for return to their country of origin.
Although the local team will be taking tips from their counterparts in London and Germany – where AGS’ Fine Art division moves priceless works for museums and individuals on a daily basis – AGS Hong Kong general manager Gregory Seitz says they’re largely on their own.
“It’s quite a challenging experience, firstly because we need to provide a bespoke packing service, and secondly because we need to ensure that we collect all items on time and deliver them to all the different rooms across four floors. It requires very specific organisation and of course extreme care when handling,” said Gregory.
Each artwork was wrapped in special acid-free paper and cushioned by layered humidity-absorbing protective wrapping, known in the business as an ‘American cover’. They were then stored in a temperature-controlled environment, with handlers required to wear gloves at all times.
Greg, who also acts as a Foreign Trade Advisor for his native France, said AGS has been chosen as the event’s new logistics sponsor due to their vast and long-reaching experience in international moving. After first setting up as just one of 8,000 moving companies in France in 1974, the family-run business cornered an untapped section of the market by offering a door-to-door service to military personnel and civil servants moving to French Occupied Territories (FOT).
“At that time, French moving companies were usually the dad running the business, the son driving the truck, the mum doing the accounting, and that’s it,” explained Gregory. “People would move to the FOT but find they were pretty much on their own when it came to moving back. The AGS idea was to provide the same quality of service on return.”
The success of the initiative over the next 15 years allowed AGS to reinvest and expand further into Africa in the early 90s, making them the first international moving company in the world to brave the ‘dark continent’. The company employed locals as drivers and retired French military personnel as managers, and set up shop in all but three African countries. To this day, the region holds the largest number of AGS offices in the world, a network so expansive that most other international moving companies have started using AGS when delivering to the continent.
The ACAS is held twice a year to coincide with the Chinese Golden Week holidays, when thousands of mainlanders flock to Hong Kong to shop and soak up the culture. The Fall edition will open at the JW Marriott on Thursday October 3rd with a VIP Collectors’ preview, continuing on Friday, Saturday and Sunday for standard ticket holders.
Visitors will have the chance to view and purchase unique, original and affordable art from some of the world’s most talked about artists, and even get to meet some of the 60 painters, sculptors and photographers accompanying their work to the show.
“In terms of the ACAS, we liked the way the art is displayed in rooms rather than in a big white hall,” said Gregory. “As an innovative company, we are honoured to have been asked to partner with such an innovative show.”