Preface: Interrupting The Program
By Elaine W. Ng
Covid-19 compelled all of us to dramatically adjust our daily lives in 2020—from washing our hands frequently to social distancing and working or learning from home. In the art world, the pandemic closed museums and galleries, and disturbed the regular rotation of international shows, festivals, fairs, and auctions. These disruptions have propelled us to review our habitual approaches to creating, exhibiting, looking, and thinking.
The 16th edition of ArtAsiaPacific’s Almanac reflects these adaptations. The typographical elements on our surgical-mask-blue cover, designed by art director Heesun Seo, allude to the physical distances that have been wedged between individuals and communities in 2020. The interior pages have likewise been reconfigured visually and in terms of content. For City Reports, we asked writers to reflect on the changes that have unfolded in the places where they reside. We hear about the activation of digital programs in New Delhi, Kuala Lumpur, Manila, Ramallah, and Sydney, and survey cities that have managed to preserve many aspects of the old normal, such as Taipei and Seoul. Writing from Beirut, Stefan Tarnowski grapples with the catastrophes that Lebanon is facing—including the pandemic, economic fallout, political strife, and the devastation of huge swathes of the capital by a chemical explosion in August. Meanwhile, from Shanghai and New York, respectively, curators BillyTang and Herb Tam describe their lockdown experiences and then enthusiastic visits to exhibitions as cities gradually reopened again.