November 8, 2008 - ArtAsiaPacific - Issue no. 61 out now
November 8, 2008

Issue no. 61 out now

Issue no. 61 out now

Issue no. 61
Nov/Dec 2008

ArtAsiaPacific is celebrating 15 years of looking, thinking and writing about contemporary art from the Asia and the Pacific. Because contemporary Asian art is a relatively novel concept, the 15th anniversary is an important milestone, demonstrating that while the field may seem like a new phenomenon, the art and the world around it own a history, which like all histories is still in the making and up for debate.

For this special anniversary issue, AAP invited Susan Acret, editor from 1997 to 2001, to co-edit the feature articles. Long-time contributors—museum directors, curators and critics who specialize in Asian contemporary art—reflect on the cultural transformations that have taken place since the inaugural issue in 1993.

The early 1990s was a period of enlightenment for scholars and curators of non-Western contemporary art. Burgeoning local art scenes in Asian metropolises were spurred on by economic development and were increasingly influenced by late-modernist art-making practices and post-colonial theory. Many contributors to AAP‘s 15th-anniversary issue note that AAP‘s launch year, 1993, coincided with the inaugural Asia-Pacific Triennial (APT), hosted by the Queensland Art Gallery (QAG) in Brisbane, Australia. Suhanya Raffel, now in charge of the Asian and Pacific Art department at the QAG, reflects on the importance of this groundbreaking exhibition.

In addition, art director Joon Mo Kang has given the magazine a new appearance, and we have added regular columns by writers such as Chin-Chin Yap and Michael Young. For this issue, several past contributors, now leading figures in Asian contemporary art, including Asia Society’s president Vishakha N. Desai, Mori Art Museum director Fumio Nanjo and Thailand’s leading cultural policy maker and curator Apinan Poshyananda, trace the development of the Asian contemporary landscape. Independent curator Hou Hanru, who wrote for the inaugural issue of AAP and continues to contribute to the magazine, explores what the future holds for exhibition practices in a region with a taste for the spectacular.

Further musings come from a host of high-profile dealers, foundation directors, collectors and educators to whom AAP has posed provocative questions and whose responses are published unedited. As a tribute to the last issue of AAP published in Sydney in June 2003, entitled “Asian Art Now,” we invite curators from across the globe to nominate a pair of artists, one influential and one emerging, whose work is overlooked. Ruminations by Chaitanya Sambrani, Gregory Burke and Sacha Craddock focus on the shift of Asia from the periphery, and where the new centers might be. Rounding out the special anniversary content, scholars Joan Kee, Marian Pastor Roces and Hu Fang comment on the state of art criticism today.

Momentous changes have taken place in the past few years across the Asia-Pacific region. New galleries, museums and foundations have opened; there is a bustling calendar of biennials and art fairs; and local artists have burst onto the international stage. These changes have been swift, yet much remains to be done to further integrate Asia-Pacific art into the Eurocentric art world. Unlike India, China and Australia, lesser- developed countries such as Mongolia, Cambodia and Afghanistan still lack rudimentary arts infrastructure. The photo essays in this issue by Ram Rahman, Lois Conner and Xing Danwen, who focus their lenses on India and China’s budding art scenes, remind us of a nearly forgotten recent past when exhibitions, scholarship and an art market seemed unthinkable. Indeed, the outward journey is just beginning.

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