::fibreculture:: ArtAsiaPacific July/August 2011 out now

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Tue Jul 5 17:00:11 CEST 2011

July 5, 2011	

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ArtAsiaPacific July/August 2011

Out Now


While most of the art world puts up its feet in July and August,  
ArtAsiaPacific takes a moment to contemplate the subtle and not-so- 
subtle changes swirling about us today. In this issue, AAP looks at  
how artists respond to precarious histories and uncertain futures.

Ai Weiwei's recent release after his 80-day-long detention at the  
hands of the Beijing police follows an overwhelming international  
outcry: interest in his work is stronger than ever. As outraged  
artists, curators and critics strive to disentangle Ai's occasional  
outbursts of acerbic social commentary from his art in an effort to  
underscore his artistic sanctity, contributing editor Andrew Cohen  
argues in his feature that in fact Ai's art and politics have always  
been deliberately inseparable.

The massive earthquake and tsunami that devastated northeastern Japan  
in March and sparked an ongoing nuclear crisis reminds us that the  
world as we know it can be upended in an instant. As Japan begins  
rebuilding, managing editor Ashley Rawlings probes the unearthly  
foreboding in the posters and canvases of Tadanori Yokoo, a graphic  
designer-turned-painter whose practice evolved in tandem with Japan's  
tumultuous decades of reconstruction immediately following World War II.

In West Asia, the Palestinian Authority's looming request for the  
United Nations General Assembly to confer international recognition  
onto the State of Palestine in September, draws editor-at-large HG  
Masters to the work of Palestinian artists who address the conditions  
of the Israeli occupation, from the construction of the separation  
barrier in 2002 up to the present. Also contemplating the issues of  
war, borders, exile and migration is Turkish-born Armenian conceptual  
artist Sarkis. Contributing editor Marlyne Sahakian describes the  
driving force behind Sarkis' work as "the idea that art has a  
transformative power-both horizontally, in terms of education and  
activism, but also vertically, as a way to elevate the human spirit  
and transcend suffering."

In Essays, independent curator David Elliott offers a frank critique  
of the state of museums in the 21st century, while Catherine Wilson  
provides an unusual glimpse into recent public and private art  
initiatives in Brunei. Moving away from arts funding to the  
distressing trend of artistic censorship, we invite Tibetan  
artistTenzing Rigdol to respond to the recent attack by Hindu  
fundamentalists, who claimed that his workBollywood Buddha is  
blasphemous to Buddha. This also reminds us of the death of MF Husain  
on June 9, the giant of Indian modern art, who struggled against the  
same insidious forces of religious fundamentalism for the last 15  
years of his life, forcing him into self-imposed exile in London,  
Dubai and Doha since 2006.

Among our project columns, artist Jaishri Abichandani discusses her  
admiration for painter Samira Abbassy; and in our Questionnaire,  
Taiwan's Lee Mingwei reveals what he is reading this summer. Reviews  
include senior editor Don J. Cohn's study of the translated Chinese  
digital texts that were permanently deleted by China's authorities in  
Ai Weiwei's Blog: Writings, Interviews and Digital Rants 2006 –2009.

Finally, Where I Work takes AAP to the Beijing studio of Guan Wei,  
just a few weeks before his unexpected eviction and the building's  
razing on May 30. With bittersweet irony, we recall noticing the sound  
of planes flying closely overhead, whereupon Guan remarked that his  
studio, ". . . is a little less likely to be redeveloped because  
Beijingers don't want to live near a flight path." Guan and other  
tenants were given three days to move. The official line: the building  
did not meet fire regulations.

One cannot help but wonder, if Ai Weiwei was allowed to speak freely  
today, what would he be tweeting, blogging or saying in public about  
the gross injustice dealt to Guan Wei and other fellow residents in  
the building. And for those who remain uncertain over whether Ai is an  
activist or an artist, it is worth noting that he once said, "Art is  
about life. Our life is entirely political. Therefore all my art is  

Select articles now online in Arabic and Chinese: artasiapacific.com

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