The world is in flux. In Buddhist terms, Saṃsāra, “continuous flow.” Ever since ArtAsiaPacific was established in 1993, the editors have endeavored to promote and embrace change—the new and unfamiliar—while also respecting and honoring tradition. In this spirit, we are delighted to announce that AAP is moving to Hong Kong and will be open for business in our new offices on September 1.
In fact, our move back to Asia is a homecoming of sorts to the region, as the publication was launched in Sydney and spent its first decade there before moving to New York in 2003. This was the time when the international art world in Europe and the Americas began to take serious note of contemporary art from the other side of the globe. Now, 18 years down the road, our journey is also a reflection of the growth of Asia and the transformations that are taking place in the world today.
No longer is there a single center for art. Instead, there are, across the globe, a multitude of artistic “centers,” in which artists create, galleries open and imaginative cultural infrastructures break new ground. From the magazine’s new home, we are looking forward to being, and growing, closer to our friends and colleagues in Asia, the Middle East and the Pacific, while continuing to nourish the links that we have established in New York, the Americas and Europe.
Responding to the global shifts taking place today, our September/October issue seeks out similar developments among artists’ practices, especially those who embrace genre-defying approaches and explore forgotten aspects of the past in order to shine new light on the present. We introduce our new associate editor Hemant Sareen, joining us in Hong Kong from New Delhi, whose feature article looks at the lineage of the minimalist style in India. As a starting point, Sareen examines the practice of the late Nasreen Mohamedi and her contemporaries VS Gaitonde, SH Raza and Jeram Patel, and reflects that, “like all cultures and artistic canons, India’s visual culture is full of curiosity about the world around it, and has consistently sought to absorb from abroad what the native impulses crave.” Through this investigation, Sareen follows the Subcontinent’s current contingent of artists who are working, in their unique ways, with the “pared-down” aesthetic epitomized by Mohamedi. From Shanghai, Xhingyu Chen considers the work of Chinese artists born after 1980 and argues that the “Post-1980s” generation should not be broadly characterized as self-centered and apathetic. Chen cites the loosely formed group, Museum of the Unknown, as a prime example of young artists banding together to collaborate and exchange ideas.
From Istanbul, editor-at-large HG Masters traces the shared histories and collective influence among Eastern Europeans, Caucasians and Central Asians through the work of the antic collective Slavs and Tatars. Masters examines the group’s diverse practice, which spans research, performance, installation and print, and explains, “Beginning with the collective’s name, everything related to Slavs and Tatars is about building connections between seemingly disparate subjects—whether places, histories or ideologies.” Also embracing incongruous associations is Berlin-based Japanese artist Tatzu Nishi, who encloses public monuments in temporary rooms that serve as hotels, cafés and studio apartments, thereby offering viewers a new perspective on places and experiences that normally go unnoticed. Reviews editor Hanae Ko met with Nishi, who told her, “I believe that the true meaning of art is to exist within a world—in which everything is expected to have a meaning or function—as a ‘purposeless’ and ‘illogical’ entity. Just by having this seemingly antisocietal position, art can provide society with a different perspective on life.”
In Essays, Singaporean artist Heman Chong recalls his experience introducing the idea of alternative historical narratives through a fiction-writing seminar he conducted in Alexandria, Egypt, while David Frazier contemplates how political theater in the museum world threatens Taiwan’s tight-knit art scene. In Case Study, Chin-Chin Yap looks at Ryan Gander’s recent sculpture of a futuristic 25 euro coin to ruminate on what the economic landscape might look like in 2036. In Profiles, Jonathan Goodman focuses on the social sculpture of Hong Kong’s Jaffa Lam, curator Rachel Kent examines Dale Frank’s long career, and Shanay Jhaveri talks to Alexandre Singh about his loose collage works and performances.
In One on One, Japan’s enfant-terrible artist Makoto Aida draws inspiration from the work of his younger peers, the Chim↑Pom group, while on the eve of the Istanbul Biennial, Duygu Demir files a Dispatch report from Turkey’s metropolis of culture. Finally, in Where I Work we visit Filipino-American light sculptor James Clar, who has taken the unusual step of setting up a massive “open studio” in glitzy Dubai, where he hopes his way of working will encourage more artists to settle in the United Arab Emirates.
Like the artists we write about who seek inspiration at home and abroad, ArtAsiaPacific’s move back to Asia brings us closer to the heart of our subject matter. We invite you to celebrate our return “home” to Hong Kong, which enables us to write more timely reviews, venture off the grid for colorful interviews and bring new vitality to these pages. Above all, we want this move to bring our readers closer to the dramatic developments taking place in contemporary art in Asia.