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ArtAsiaPacific 109 (Jul/Aug 2018)

For over 20 years, ArtAsiaPacific has been at the forefront of the powerful creative forces that shape contemporary art from Asia, the Pacific and the Middle East. Covering the latest in contemporary visual culture, ArtAsiaPacific is published in Hong Kong, with over 30 editorial desks worldwide. Our annual issue, the Almanac, is an alphabetical tour d'horizon of the 67-odd countries covered in ArtAsiaPacific, spanning Afghanistan to Vietnam. The Almanac also invites influential art world figures to comment on the major cutural events that have shaped the past 12 months. Now also available on the iPhone!

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being within the change

A saffron-painted merry cow, and the mass-market dairy products it produces—including cheese glowing with golden, technicolor vibrancy—is the centerpiece of Yellow Cow (2006–10), a multi-part installation by the Saudi Arabian artist Ahmed Mater. Utilizing mass marketing and commercial advertising, Mater catapulted the Quran tale of the yellow cow into the present day. That Mater the provocateur—who also co-founded the galvanizing Edge of Arabia organization to promote Saudi art and ran the underground Pharan Studio in Jeddah—was recently appointed executive director of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz al-Saud’s Misk Art Institute has caught the attention of many people in the Gulf and beyond. As ArtAsiaPacific’s Dubai desk editor Kevin Jones asks in his Feature: “Will the soft-power posturing and cultural-diplomacy of his job curtail or delimit his own artistic…

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FIONA CHENG Fiona Cheng is an arts writer based in Taichung and Chittagong, focusing on modern and contemporary art in East and Southeast Asia. She is the editor and founder of Arts Observer Field Archive—a website reporting on art and culture. In 2017, the jury of the Ganesh Haloi Bengal Research Grant nominated her for Honorable Mention. (See DISPATCH) KEVIN JONES Kevin Jones is the UAE desk editor for AAP and is currently based in Dubai. He has lived in the Middle East for the past 12 years. (See FEATURES) JOSEPHINE V. ROQUE Josephine V. Roque is a writer based in Manila. She obtained her MFA in creative writing from De La Salle University, and received the Ateneo Art Awards Purita Kalaw-Ledesma Prize for Art Criticism in 2017. (See FEATURES) BEN VALENTINE Ben Valentine is a writer based in Cambodia,…

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kacey wong on chen shun-chu

At the time of writing this article, I was in Taiwan and fond memories of my artist friend, Chen Shun-Chu, had resurfaced. Shun-Chu was soft-spoken, with a gentle smile, squarish face and big, black eyes that are difficult to forget. I had known him for close to 20 years; we met up frequently in Taipei and Hong Kong. We shared similarities and differences in many conversations. Unfortunately, our exchanges ended when Shun-Chu tragically passed away in 2014. Shun-Chu was a well-known Taiwanese contemporary photographer who drew on the concept of “home” in his artistic practice. Death, memory, family, home and identity were themes that reoccurred in in his work. Although he studied painting when he was at university, he considered himself a photographer. In my mind, he was a master of installation,…

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As an art city, Taichung has been on the rise. To rectify the city’s image of violence, perpetuated by a surge in organized-crime-related deaths and broad-daylight kidnappings since the 1980s, the government in recent decades has been investing in an alternate image of arts, design and culture. One way they have gone about doing this is through gentrification. In terms of housing, government-led programs have promoted the renovation of older residences throughout the city, with an aim to appeal to the city’s petit bourgeois. Public spaces and programming have also been given a facelift: for the last 15 years, the annual Jazz Festival has helped boost the city’s image, taking place on the communal, grassy lawns of the almost-four-kilometer boulevard, Calligraphy Greenway. However, the planning and restructuring of other major public sites,…

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furor over gaza protest posters in jerusalem

A display of posters memorializing slain Gazans at a Jerusalem art school has stirred controversy over freedom of expression. On May 16, a series of black-and-white posters designed by roughly 25 anonymous Palestinian-Israeli students were put up around the Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design. Bearing the Arabic names of the 62 Palestinian protesters killed by Israeli army forces at the Gaza security barrier on May 14–15, the display was organized to raise awareness of the death toll from the 30,000-strong protest against the ongoing Gaza blockade imposed by Israel and Egypt, and the relocation of the United States embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Separate posters, featuring a map of Gaza, read “Not Your Toy,” a reference to the Israeli winner of the Eurovision Song Contest. Factions within the…

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a friend

To be honest, I am always reluctant to read any article with the word “identity” in its title, let alone a magazine featuring the theme. Normally, I would throw it into the trash bin for sure. I would also throw all the artists, art critics and theorists who concern themselves with this theme into the trash bin. When I was approached by ArtAsiaPacific to write an identity-themed essay for them, the first thought that appeared in my mind was: you really are inviting the least suitable writer. On the morning of the day of the deadline, I was sitting on a bus from Riga to Vilnius, trying to figure out what new tricks I could possibly play on the topic. As a renowned young talent, I must avoid the bromides that…