AAP has completed another era: its second decade. Looking back at the first issue in 1993, the art world in the Asia region seemed full of possibilities or bleak with a lack of them—depending on your perspective. Today, many claim that the region is enjoying a cultural renaissance and is the most happening place to be. New museums continue to be launched or construction is underway, art schools are expanding with more aspiring artists, alternative art spaces push boundaries of experimentation and galleries are sprouting up across Asia and the Middle East. All of this leads to more opportunities for artists, curators and proponents of civil societies that respect creativity and the freedom of expression. All of these indicators—some positive, others regressive—are carefully traced in the Almanac.
For each edition of the Almanac, now in its eighth volume, we invite influential art-world figures to reflect on the major cultural events of the past year and the year to come. Lars Nittve, executive director of the M+ museum at West Kowloon Cultural District in Hong Kong, and Elizabeth Ann Macgregor, director of the Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney, each point to reasons for hope in a year blighted by cultural intolerance (in Hong Kong) and government budget cuts (from Canberra). From their unique perspectives, Saudi Arabian doctor-turned-artist Ahmed Mater and Burmese performance artist Moe Satt discuss art’s role in society. Dhaka-based collectors Nadia and Rajeeb Samdani, who recently debuted their Dhaka Art Summit, point to the pockets of creativity forming in Bangladesh, and the influence of neighboring giants India and China. From Georgia, Wato Tsereteli, an artist and co-curator of the first Tbilisi Triennial, explains the need for regenerating outdated educational platforms for art in the post-Soviet nation.
Despite any trepidation you might have about the new year, by traversing the globe through the Almanac that is in your hands, you will revel in the atmosphere of creativity and imagination fostered by new partnerships and collaborations occurring among artists, galleries and institutions across the region. We at ArtAsiaPacific prefer to err on the side of optimism, and hope for the best in 2013.