Preface: Planning Ahead
By Elaine W. NG
Full text also available in Chinese.
The second year of the pandemic saw the continuation of speculative discussions on the post-pandemic era, with many imagining what it might be like. Some are eager to emerge from Covid-19 and return to what was once the stable norm, while others are calling for the creation of new socioeconomic structures that better serve populations. This tension between order and disruption is reflected in the design of ArtAsiaPacific’s 17th Almanac, which juxtaposes grid motifs with tilted, slipping elements evoking a turning page. What might be overleaf—an extension of what already exists or a transformed world?
The question of how to forge on in the future is a pressing issue for arts circles around the world. In City Reports, we hear from 15 artists, writers, and curators about the responses of their communities to the events of 2021 and their focuses moving into 2022 and beyond. Based in Hong Kong, curator Chloe Chow describes the opening of the much-anticipated M+ museum amid concerns for freedom of speech, as well as the city’s adaptations to a shifting political climate. Gotong royong (to share and build together) undergirds Indonesia’s social movements and civic solidarity, according to Yogyakarta-based curator Alia Swastika, who expounds the growing importance of collectivism, decentralization, and decolonization. Nav Haq, associate director of the Museum of Contemporary Art Antwerp, similarly reflects on discussions around decolonization and the necessity of alternative cultural and philosophical models within such discourse in Europe.
Elsewhere in City Reports, in an interview with assistant editor Pamela Wong, Ryuta Ushiro from the group Chim↑Pom shares his thoughts on the controversial Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics, including the artistic projects that accompanied the event, and the collective’s plans to create a daycare center at its upcoming Mori Art Museum exhibition, to alleviate the pressures on working parents. For photographer Sohrab Hura, in 2021, issues in broader Indian society—such as inequity—became closely aligned with the concerns of the art world: “Even art comes from the privilege of caste, class, region, city, and language. People are questioning these elements within the very hierarchical spaces of art and there is something in flux right now.”
On the News pages of the Almanac, we compile the key events of 2021, from institutional disputes to solidarity campaigns, censorship issues, and the emergence of new public platforms around the globe. The Cultural Currency section details the art market’s latest developments, including the astronomical rise of NFTs, which have changed the industry. Noteworthy exhibitions and festivals that captured the zeitgeist are included in the back of the issue, along with the events that we will have our eyes on in 2022. In the Artists of the Year section, we celebrate six artists whose projects and exhibitions drew attention to pertinent issues and gained traction in the past year: Yu Ji, Yee I-Lann, Park Seo-Bo, Monira Al Qadiri, Bani Abidi, and Sung Tieu.
With these components, Almanac 2022 tracks the artistic phenomena emerging from the dynamic Asia-Pacific region. We are grateful for the many contributors to the Almanac who help us document the momentous events of the past year. And this project would not be possible without the support of Burger Collection, CL3 Architects, Kukje Gallery, Mapletree, Perrotin, Simon Suen Foundation, and Sunpride Foundation.