ArtAsiaPacific Almanac 2012 out now


January 9, 2012

ArtAsiaPacific Almanac 2012

Out Now

Never before in the seven years of compiling the Almanac have the editors of ArtAsiaPacific had so much change and upheaval to write about.

It began in January 2011 in Tunisia, when the young fruit seller Mohamed Bouazizi set himself on fire, and ushered in what has since been dubbed the Arab Spring—a revolution of the people demanding political and social reforms that has spread to many of the countries in West Asia. Toward the close of the year, the Assad regime in Syria clings to power despite sanctions from the Arab League and Turkey, and Yemen is still embroiled in violence. It remains too early to tell what long-term change in the region might look like, but we remain hopeful.

Natural disasters shaped the year around the Pacific. In February, Christchurch, New Zealand, was hit by a major earthquake that caused significant damage to the country’s second most populous city. Less than a month later, one of the world’s most devastating earthquakes hit northeastern Japan. Just as the Christchurch art community rallied to find alternative spaces for damaged galleries, Japanese artists combined forces to organize relief efforts for victims.

In 2011, shockwaves also originated from central governments. On April 3, China sent the world a strong message as it spirited away one of the country’s most recognized artists and social activists, Ai Weiwei, for alleged “economic crimes.” The international outcry against the Chinese government was remarkable, with major museums signing petitions for Ai’s release, and fellow artists such as Daniel Buren and Anish Kapoor canceling their Beijing exhibitions. In an amazing turnaround, Ai was released on bail 81 days later. Chinese tax authorities have since handed him a bill for USD 2.4 million in alleged back taxes and fines. Ai’s predicament highlights all the other missing and detained people in autocratic regimes.

In each edition of the Almanac we invite influential art world figures to contemplate the major cultural events that have shaped the past year. This year, Japanese artist and scholar Minato Chihiro and Sydney’s Art Space executive director Blair French each discuss art’s role in relationship to the region’s natural disasters and human crises. New Delhi-based collector Kiran Nadar, who recently debuted her private museum, shares her thoughts on her favorite exhibitions from the Subcontinent in 2011. From Beirut, Marwa Arsanios, an artist and co-founder of the independent art space 98 Weeks sheds light on a senior artist’s retrospective that neglected its local context in the curatorial process. Georgy Mamedov, co-curator of the Central Asia Pavilion at the 54th Venice Biennale, and artist and Singapore Biennale artistic director Matthew Ngui, reflect on the function of art in society from their unique perspectives.

The Five Plus One section, in which editors select five artists who have made a significant impact in 2011 along with one who promises to do so in 2012, features special profiles of artists as varied in outlook as Zarina Hashmi, Walid Raad, Ming Wong, Tabaimo, Michael Parekowhai and Slavs & Tatars, our “plus one.” The cover was designed by Singaporean artist Heman Chong, who created a mosaic of images of nondescript places in Asia, making it difficult to decipher whether it is Istanbul, Baku, Kuala Lumpur or Tokyo. In the spirit of the Almanac, Chong describes the diagonal stripe as a form of erasure, which suggests an emerging situation as well as the interconnectivity of all the elements in this annual volume.

Select articles now online in Arabic and Chinese:

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