MOMOYO TORIMITSUMiyata Jiro, 1996, robot made from polyester resin and motors. Photo documentation of performance in which the artist, dressed as a nurse, follows the robot as it crawls through midtown New York, 1996. Copyright Michael Dames. Courtesy the artist. 

Horizontal Collaboration

In recent years, globalization has been widely critiqued for promoting unfair labor practices and destroying local identities, values and environments. At the same time, international artists, curators and gallerists are pursuing innovative practices that both celebrate the possibilities of global production and subvert assumptions that, despite the best advances in modern media, the world can be understood from an absolute or universally shared perspective. Globalization, strangely, has been a tremendous catalyst in showing us just how diverse and varying human sensibilities and values can be. While the 21st century confronts us with unprecedented moral, ethical and cultural dilemmas, it is also proving, in its early stages, to be intensely stimulating as old conventions give way to unique points of view. Indeed, nowhere has this been more evident than in the world of art, where the past decade alone has seen tremendous change.

In this issue, we take the opportunity to focus on artists and events that are leading the way toward a new era of cosmopolitanism and revising old concepts of diaspora and dislocation, starting with “Miami is Just the Beginning,” part of our ongoing series of columns featuring unpublished texts from the estate of contributing editor Jonathan Napack (1967-2007). Napack’s reflections on the massively successful Art Basel Miami Beach art fair, written in 2005, forecast the importance of the inaugural ShContemporary, opening in Shanghai this September. The visionaries behind the fair—Pierre Huber and Lorenzo Rudolf, working with Italy’s BolognaFiere—and some of the exhibiting gallerists, artists and publications, including ArtAsiaPacific, comprise a horizontal collaboration to re-establish Shanghai as a center of cultural intersection. Our profile on the fair, compiled by a team of AAP editors, suggests that support for ShContemporary is high, as art professionals from Mumbai to Tokyo anticipate an event that will bring the region together and encourage international exchange on Asian terms.

And if the Swiss pair of Huber and Rudolf recognize that China is the place for pursuing ambitious projects, they are not alone. Contributing editor Paul Laster sits down with Belgian mixed media artist and iconoclast Wim Delvoye, who has run a hog-fuelled Art Farm outside of Beijing since 2004 and held his first China solo show at Xin Beijing Gallery this past spring. Paul D. Miller aka DJ Spooky that Subliminal Kid continues the theme by discussing art star Kehinde Wiley’s experimental “World Stage” project, for which the artist recently established a temporary studio in Beijing and turned to Chinese popular culture in continuing his paintings of young African-American men that sample and remix a dizzying array of historical references. Likewise, RoseLee Goldberg, director of PERFORMA, the New York based organization dedicated to performance in the visual arts, explores Isaac Julien’s choice of film locations that represent a boundless nether place, revealing how the world, through Julien’s vision, is flat; our individual experiences fill in the emotional and topographical contours, as well as the limits.

Reversing the editorial equation, two curators, Hou Hanru, director of this year’s Istanbul Biennial, and Jerome Sans, associate director of BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art in the UK, explore the connections between China and France by interviewing two artists who established successful careers in an adopted country: painter Yan Pei-Ming and mixed-media installation artist Wang Du, respectively. And in advance of the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art’s retrospective exhibition, “©MURAKAMI,” deputy editor Andrew Maerkle talks with both Takashi Murakami—a self-affirmed importer and exporter of culture and merchandise—and one of his earliest supporters, gallerist Timothy Blum, who first met his superstar artist while living in Tokyo from 1990-94.

Profiles stretch the idea of exchange further, visiting with seminal avant-garde artist Zhang Huan at his studio in Shanghai, where Zhang has returned after moving to New York in 1998; trying to keep pace with globetrotting artist Jitish Kallat, who often uses the urban experience of Mumbai as a reference point in his work; and unpacking Yogyakarta-based artist Agus Suwage’s ironic appreciation for global pop legends such as Bob Marley, Madonna and Peter Gabriel.

For State of the Art, Phillips de Pury & Company’s Chin-Chin Yap, who trained as a lawyer, investigates the slippery side of intellectual property rights, while The Point invites Lorenzo Fiaschi, from Galleria Continua, San Gimignano—Beijing, to assess his “transexperience” of exhibiting international artists in China. Film Review peeks across the DMZ separating the two Koreas to examine the documentary Crossing the Line, about American defectors living in Pyongyang. Book Review opens up Queensland Art Gallery’s ambitious tome on contemporary art from Australia, Brought to Light. Projects in the Making spotlights rising Armenian painter Armen Eloyan, now based between Amsterdam and Zurich, and for Where I Work, curator Trevor Smith stops by the New York studio—the particular physical universe through which she moves—of legendary media artist Kimsooja.

The artists in this issue show us a world that contracts and expands, where borders move, cities morph and distances shrink. At a moment when the art world, in its unwavering nomadic curiosity, is embracing foreign ideas and experiences, they relish the challenges of unfamiliar terrain. In a conversation at the AAP office in New York, Lorenzo Rudolf offered this perspective: “The art world, or more specifically, the artist, has something I adore, and that’s a certain openness of mind. That mentality embodies the opposite of fear; everything begins with curiosity.”