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Almanac 2010

For more than 15 years, ArtAsiaPacific has tracked the shifting topography of contemporary art from Asia, the Pacific and the Middle East. In 2005, the magazine’s editors decided to produce a permanent record of the art scene in the 67 countries and territories of our geographical footprint—some basking in the limelight and others laboring for support and acknowledgment.

Since its debut in 2006, the Almanac has been a prime source of information for artists, collectors, curators, scholars, auction specialists, private dealers and gallerists. This year’s edition, our fifth, builds on the orderly mix of illustrations, maps, figures and forecasts that guided our early instinct to become a definitive guide. The Almanac has now established itself as an A to Z (or rather Y, for Yemen) of contemporary art that spans the area from Turkey in the west to the Pacific island of Tonga in the east.

This year’s Almanac was edited by HG Masters, along with co-editors Marisa Mazria-Katz responsible for West Asia, Megha Ralapati and Hanae Ko examining South Asia, Aliya de Tiesenhausen navigating the Stans of Central Asia, Sara Raza covering the South Caucasus region, and Andy Cushman reviewing countries in the Pacific Ocean. We have additional contributions from Brian Curtin, Nicolaus Mesterharm, Cameron Allan McKean, Marlyne Sahakian and Darryl Wee for coverage of Australia, New Zealand and many of the countries in Southeast Asia. Together with Almanac researchers Rebecca Close, Irina Makarova, Pey Chuan Tan, Jordan Teplitzky and Sen-Je Yuan, our correspondents reached out to cultural ministries and foreign consulates, scrutinized websites, ransacked databases, and pored over archives, blogs and publications in English as well as European, Asian and Arabic languages. While juggling a dozen time zones, the editors and writers communicated with those in the know—artists, dealers, critics, curators, diplomats and government officials—to amass firsthand accounts. We are fortunate that these forthright individuals and organizations continue to share their knowledge, resources and efforts with us.

For the present Almanac, we have invited 12 influential figures to reflect on the last ten years of contemporary art. These include curators Edward Balassanian of the Armenian Center for Contemporary Experimental Art; Felicity Fenner of Sydney’s Ivan Dougherty Gallery; Yuko Hasegawa of the Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo; Eungie Joo of the New Museum in New York; and Berkeley-based independent curator Salwa Mikdadi. Pioneering gallerists Shireen Gandhy of Chemould Prescott Road and Hu Fang of the forward-thinking Vitamin Creative Space consider the major art events in India and China, respectively. Maverick artists Fereydoun Ave from Tehran, Singapore’s Heman Chong and Karachi-based Naiza Khan take a more critical view of artistic developments since 2000. Australian collector John Kaldor and Daravuth Ly, co-founder of the nonprofit cultural organization Reyum in Phnom Penh, both explain their motivations for nurturing contemporary artists. Portraits of these individuals were drawn by acclaimed designer Paul Sahre.

Regular Almanac readers will notice a revamped design. ArtAsiaPacific’s art director Joon Mo Kang, photo editor Alis Atwell and designer Kyi Sun Lee have polished the layout, refined the country maps, commissioned photographs of the artists featured in the Five Plus One section, and carefully selected more than 300 images, finding room for everything in fewer than 260 pages.

Pundits predicted that 2009 would be financial Armageddon following the excesses of the past decade. No one denies that the global recession has had a crippling effect on almost every corner of the art world, from fairs to nonprofits. However, as curator Eungie Joo points out in her essay, “Great things are always happening under the shiny facade of commerce.” ArtAsiaPacific will continue to chronicle the artistic achievements—whether in museum exhibition halls or in fledgling independent initiatives—that inspire artists and audiences to keep looking and keep going.