Almanac 2008

As ArtAsiaPacific approaches its 15th birthday in June and launches the third edition of our special annual The Almanac, we continue to navigate the topsy-turvy world of contemporary art in Asia. Since The Almanac’s debut in 2006, artists, collectors, gallerists and graphic designers have lauded the mix of maps, figures, predictions and pictures that shaped our first effort in this direction. The Almanac was developed for an audience hungry for information across a variety of sectors, and has established itself as the resource of facts and perspectives on the art scene in a region that accounts for more than two-thirds of the world’s population.

To help form an accurate snap-shot, this year’s Almanac editors Gina Fairley, Maymanah Farhat, HG Masters, Sara Raza and Murtaza Vali have pursued their sources and turned to an ever-widening range of references on- and off-line.  Together with the assistance of Jared Bezzant, Dyer Cushman, Quan Duong, Ken Fujii, Hanae Ko, Audrey Luk, Jade Takakuwa, Sen-Je Yuan and the desk editors, they mined websites and databases, looted archives and publications in English as well as European and Asian languages. Dancing across time zones, they spoke to artists, dealers, critics, curators, diplomats, government officials and specialists on the ground and in the know to compile a record that is up to date through late December 2007. We are grateful to these committed individuals who share their knowledge, resources and efforts with us. 

Among the 10 special contributors to The Almanac 2008 are leading artists Ai Weiwei, Subodh Gupta and Apichatpong Weerasethakul. Gallerists Gene Sherman and the New Tokyo Contemporaries, a group of young renegade dealers in Japan, offer opinion on supporting new initiatives. Philanthropists, including Dr. Oei Hong Djien of Indonesia and Belgium’s Guy and Myriam Ullens, reflect on the dynamism of the Asia region. And pioneering curators Salima Hashmi, Hou Hanru and Wonil Rhee take a more measured view of the year’s events.

Seasoned readers will notice changes in The Almanac’s layout.  ArtAsiaPacific’s art director Joon Mo Kang, with the assistance of photo editor Alis Atwell, have refreshed The Almanac’s design to organize this wealth of useful information relating to contemporary art from the Asia and the Pacific in over 250 pages. The Almanac is divided into two parts. The first presents events happening around the world, while the second offers introductions to the year’s artistic activities in each of the 67 countries—from Turkey in the west to Tonga in the east—in the region we define as the Asia-Pacific.

2007 saw great exuberance in the international art markets, with price records at auction broken again and again, giving birth to as many cries of “Bubble! Bubble!” as optimistic observations of “It’s not over yet.” ArtAsiaPacific hears both voices at once, but we remain firm in our commitment that no matter where the market goes, we will be there to record the wins and the losses, the ties and even the blurred finishes. In 2008 we will focus on the frontier art capitals of Kabul, Lhasa, Pyongyang and Ulaanbaatar, creative experiments in sound as well as follow the art scene in China in the light and shadows of the Beijing Olympics. Also look for our special anniversary issue in the second half of the year revisiting topics we have covered and people who have written for ArtAsiaPacific over the past decade and a half.