Once you arrive at the West Bund Art Center you start in Hall A greeted by an endless number of stalls occupied by galleries from Asia, Europe, North America and South America. Immediately to your right, you can pick up a very overwhelming map, which outlines where all galleries are. It spans two buildings: Hall A across from where you get your tickets and Hall N, the newly constructed building across the street.
The whole thing is very scene-y, with posh important-looking people wandering the halls and curators typing away, unencumbered, on their MacBooks. There are lots of black sweaters. People watching is a highlight, there are also a few cafes including two Starbucks (one per hall) where it’s nice to sit and ponder: "Could I be a famous contemporary artist?”
Hall A was hit or miss. A handful of the galleries were provocative, but a lot looked like they were taken from an intro to art class. Is this the best the world has to offer? Continuing on to Hall N across the street, things start to pick up. There are more interesting concepts here like the Star Gallery’s recreation of a closed bookstore, which touts paintings done on iPhones and burnt underwear. There are also more curators in this hall willing to engage in conversation.
Worth it? Depends on how steep the 150rmb entrance fee is to you, which covers both halls of the exhibition. If you’re in the industry, you're already going for the networking. For the rest of us, the fair creates a nice ambience to wander around (or to drink Starbucks in) and you can easily spend 2-3 hours covering the grounds.