May 8, 2009 - ArtAsiaPacific - Issue 63 out now
May 8, 2009

Issue 63 out now

Issue 63
May/Jun 2009

www.aapmag.com

Although eight months into the global economic crisis, artists, curators and art lovers from every corner of the globe are about leave some of their troubles behind and fly to Venice to look at the world’s latest art. Now in its 53rd incarnation, the Venice Biennale is dedicated to experimentation, but also represents the positive spirit of internationalism. Every year the festival welcomes more nations into its program—this year, the United Arab Emirates, Palestine and a group initiative by Afghanistan, Iran and Pakistan. ArtAsiaPacific 63 previews the most ambitious pavilions and focuses on several emerging artists showing in, “Making Worlds,” the centerpiece show organized by Swedish curator Daniel Birnbaum.

In an article that paints a broad picture of the multi-national institution, AAP‘s features editor Ashley Rawlings talks with Daniel Birnbaum and curators of several national pavilions as they lay the groundwork for the exhibition. In Features, we also spotlight several Biennale artists. From Brisbane, Michael Young looks at the work of indigenous multimedia artist Vernon Ah Kee, who provoked controversy at the 2008 Biennale of Sydney with his candid explorations of Australia’s treatment of its Aboriginal population and its ongoing legacy of racism.

Politics are addressed in a more oblique way by Hong Kong’s sole representative to Venice this year, conceptual and performance artist Pak Sheung Chuen, who, as writer Olivier Krischer discovers, transforms daily experiences such as collecting lottery tickets and eating watermelon into art. Managing editor HG Masters contemplates the mysterious installations of venetian blinds, colored lights, fans and air fresheners of Berlin- and Seoul-based artist Haegue Yang, the first woman to represent South Korea in a solo show at Venice.

From Bangkok, Philip Cornwel-Smith previews the Singapore and Thailand pavilions, which examine national identity and prevailing stereotypes—consciously imposed and subconsciously perpetuated. Contributing editor Donald Dinwiddie introduces London-based Tibetan Gonkar Gyatso—making his international debut in Birnbaum’s Arsenale show—whose works have evolved from socialist realism, thangkha and traditional Chinese painting to interpreting the world through popular culture, mass media and the printed word after he moved to London.

The Venice Biennale is a theme throughout the issue. For Archive, assistant editor Hanae Ko looks back at forward-thinking art patron Shojiro Ishibashi, who funded the construction of the Japan Pavilion in the Giardini in 1956. In Projects, AAP talks with Mumbai-based painter Anju Dodiya, who will also debut in the Arsenale, about her use of eclectic materials and the literary references that inspire her work. And London-based Iranian artist Reza Aramesh drafts a Proposal X on his vision for Iran’s yet-to-be-built pavilion at Venice.

In Profiles, AAP meets artists who deal with the burden of history and the social, political and economic connections that bind us together and split us apart. Murtaza Vali interviews Mumbai-based painter Nalini Malani, whose practice has expanded from oil on canvas to sprawling video installations while retaining an interest in ancient mythology. Also on the Subcontinent, Allison White visits the port city of Karachi to report on the dynamic arts scene developing there. For Current Affairs, artist Naeem Mohaiemen, known for his ruminations on history and politics, mulls over Bangladesh’s recent peaceful elections and its particular form of democracy. And Christine Vu offers a snapshot of arts funding in Vietnam.

However, at the heart of all discussions on arts funding, whether it comes from Hanoi or Hollywood, is the reality that the ever-growing art world navigates the same choppy financial waters. Let’s hope that artists, curators and patrons—whether they are heading for Venice or working in their studios in Karachi and Korea—remain undeterred by such challenges.

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