Almanac 2021

Almanac 2021


Cover concept: Heesun Seo. Courtesy ArtAsiaPacific.

January 4, 2021
Almanac 2021
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Covid-19 compelled all of us to dramatically adjust our daily lives in 2020—from washing our hands frequently to social distancing and working or learning from home. In the art world, the pandemic closed museums and galleries, and disturbed the regular rotation of international shows, festivals, fairs, and auctions. These disruptions have propelled us to review our habitual approaches to creating, exhibiting, looking, and thinking. 

The 16th edition of ArtAsiaPacific’s Almanac reflects these adaptations. The typographical elements on our surgical-mask-blue cover, designed by art director Heesun Seo, allude to the physical distances that have been wedged between individuals and communities in 2020. The interior pages have likewise been reconfigured visually and in terms of content. For City Reports, we asked writers to reflect on the changes that have unfolded in the places where they reside. We hear about the activation of digital programs in New Delhi, Kuala Lumpur, Manila, Ramallah, and Sydney, and survey cities that have managed to preserve many aspects of the old normal, such as Taipei and Seoul. Writing from Beirut, Stefan Tarnowski grapples with the catastrophes that Lebanon is facing—including the pandemic, economic fallout, political strife, and the devastation of huge swathes of the capital by a chemical explosion in August. Meanwhile, from Shanghai and New York, respectively, curators Billy Tang and Herb Tam describe their lockdown experiences and then enthusiastic visits to exhibitions as cities gradually reopened again.

Additionally, we asked five artists, curators, and collectives for their personal Perspectives on 2020, including the Jakarta-based artist group ruangrupa, who have been gathering collaborative partners in preparation for their edition of documenta fifteen in 2022. The festival, ruangrupa tells us, will be modeled on a lumbung (communal rice barn), and aims to provide sustainable and mutual nourishment for its network of contributors. From Bangkok, artist and filmmaker Chulayarnnon Siriphol describes how members of the creative community have been fighting for democracy and imagining a new society. Almaty-based curator Olga Veselova recounts initiating an exhibition for audiences in one of the only physical locations still open to them: the supermarket. From Hong Kong, artist Ho Sin Tung reflects on the process of reconciling with a troubled world, while Sibel Horada gives insight into the new sense of solidarity that emerged among the creative community in Istanbul. 

As we do in every edition of the Almanac, we compile the most notable news about censorship issues, rights advocacy, developments in the arts infrastructure, donations, awards, and other milestone events in the front of the magazine. In the Cultural Currency section, we examine how the art market shifted gears in light of Covid-19, and how these strategies have paid off in terms of sales at art fairs and auctions. Elsewhere in the issue, readers will find the editors’ selections of exhibitions and festivals that stood out in 2020, and the events that we are looking forward to in 2021. We also turn a spotlight on six artists who captured the zeitgeist with their projects and exhibitions: Yoshitomo Nara, Tarek Atoui, Brook Andrew, Mai-Thu Perret, Forensic Architecture, and Leelee Chan.

With these components, Almanac 2021 extends AAP’s archive of the artistic phenomena emerging from the dynamic Asia-Pacific region. We are grateful for the many contributors to the Almanac who help us document the momentous events of the past year. This project would not be possible without the support of Burger Collection, CL3 Architects, Kukje Gallery, Simon Suen Foundation, Mapletree, Sunpride Foundation, and Stefan Rihs.

Though 2020 was a challenging year for many, we hope that, on and between the Almanac’s pages, readers will see the solidarity and connections that have remained intact in the global art community, despite the shifts and uncertainties of our ever-transforming world.

A digital edition of the full AAP Almanac 2021 is now available for purchase on ZinioGoogle PlayiTunes, and Magzter.

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