Never before in the seven years of compiling the Almanac have the editors of ArtAsiaPacific had so much change and upheaval to write about.
While they would never be so explicit or didactic—their slogans remain coyly evocative—Slavs & Tatars manage to be in the right place at the right time.
Now entering its tenth year of war as NATO forces continue to fight a Taliban insurgency, Afghanistan is still facing an uncertain future. The country struggles to rebuild its economy and shore up newly democratic political and social structures.
One of the few remaining one-party communist states, Laos lags behind its regional neighbors in physical infrastructure, and the autocratic government controls the media and monitors internet usage.
Renowned for its liberal education, cultural openness and freedom of expression, Lebanon is a key center in the regional art scene. Following the cessation—but not resolution—of its 15-year civil war in 1990, and in the absence of government support, the revival of the art scene was spearheaded by a small group of individuals.
The world’s largest gambling center, this Special Administrative region of China derives over 70 percent of its revenue from casinos and the gaming industry. Macau’s few commercial galleries deal in decorative tourist art, yet the recent efforts of some artist-run spaces have increased and diversified opportunities for artists at home and abroad.
Home to over 1,000 different ethnicities speaking some 860 languages, Papua New Guinea (PNG) experiences frequent ethnic clashes. The country’s high rates of violent crime, official corruption and a spiraling HIV epidemic garnered its capital Port Moresby the distinction of being one of the world’s least desirable cities to live in.
With a small economy based primarily on agriculture, Tajikistan is still recovering from a civil war (1992–97) following the collapse of the Soviet Union. There is little funding for the arts and a negligible art market.
I will never forget the words of one 16-year-old high school student. It was a statement made immediately after he was rescued, after nine days trapped in the wreckage of his family’s home, which had been knocked down by the tsunami.
This year’s selection of books present the maturity, complexity and diversity of contemporary art practices across the Asia-Pacific, as well as the independence of artists in the region from the traditional centers of art production in Europe and North America.