As we went to print with the November/December issue of ArtAsiaPacific, serious allegations of sexual harassment against women in the art world and media began to surface. The editors at AAP support the women—whether they work as artists, gallerists, curators, museum directors or in other cultural roles—who have broken their silence about the intimidation they face. We reiterate the magazine’s longstanding belief in gender parity and equality. Our cover Feature celebrates the work of Melati Suryodarmo, the artistic director of this year’s Jakarta Biennale, and a pioneer of performance art and feminist activism across the globe, especially in her home country of Indonesia.
Independent curator Eva McGovern-Basa explores the span of Suryodarmo’s career, including her early practice in Germany, an infamous performance on 20 bricks of soft butter in 2000, and works that address gender and sociopolitical issues in her home country. This month, Suryodarmo will unveil the 17th Jakarta Biennale, which she has overseen as its first female artistic director.
Chung Seoyoung is expanding the potential of sculpture with her practice, which dates back to the independent, experimental art scene of the 1990s and 2000s in South Korea. AAP editor at large HG Masters reflects on the artist’s “proto-augmented reality,” which mediates what Chung calls the “third form”—an unknown territory derived from collisions among objects and everyday encounters, infused with subtle social criticism.
Artist and teacher Rashid Rana is known for his photomosaics, such as a massive collage that is a facsimile of an ornate red Persian carpet, made from photos of a slaughterhouse. AAP London desk editor Ned Carter Miles analyzes Rana’s search for a universal visual language that transcends geography and history, covering the artist’s monochromatic paintings, and his sculpture-installations at the 56th Venice Biennale.
In our Special Feature, Inside Burger Collection, art historian Karin Zitzewitz zeros in on Jitish Kallat’s 20-year exploration of time and life’s transience after visiting the artist’s midcareer survey at New Delhi’s National Gallery of Modern Art earlier this year, curated by Catherine David.
In Profiles, we look at artists and collectors who are concerned with boundaries. Hong Kong-based artist João Vasco Paiva excavates experiences from the environments around him to explore what they can tell us about humankind. Sri Lanka-born, Sydney-based Ramesh Mario Nithiyendran references religion, sexual politics and cultural idolatry in raw, discordant totem sculptures, flirting dangerously with blasphemy. Capping off the section, we spotlight Singaporean collectors John Chia and Cheryl Loh, a low-key couple whose art collection of 300-plus works includes pieces by artists who express a “Singapore-ness in art.”
For the Essays section, Mimi Wong examines a new generation of Chinese diaspora artists and curators in New York who are tracing the footsteps of their forebears—such as the Godzilla Asian American Art Network—by opening their own spaces to tackle the cultural limitations of institutional support.
Elsewhere, in One on One, Indonesian conceptual artist FX Harsono explains his admiration for Timoteus Anggawan Kusno and his fictional historical narratives set in the Dutch East Indies. Reviews cover Spectrosynthesis at MOCA Taipei, Hrair Sarkissian’s Homesick at Beirut’s Sursock Museum, and more. For Where I Work, we travel to Yangon to visit the studio of husband-and-wife duo Tun Win Aung and Wah Nu, whose practice involves delving into archival materials and past injustices that have unfolded in the country.
In The Point, Dame Jenny Gibbs, respected for her early efforts in spearheading private giving to the arts in New Zealand, lists the many motivations behind arts patronage. She concludes: “The greatest benefit is the simple joy of knowing you have made a contribution to your society, enabled an activity that would not otherwise have happened, and made the world a better place.” Many of the artists featured in this issue have relied on spaces, organizations or individuals such as Dame Jenny Gibbs, whose modes of support are paramount to progression, breaking boundaries along the way.
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