One of the defining qualities of contemporary art is its ability and desire to push boundaries. For some artists, this takes the form of innovating in their chosen practice or medium, while for others it entails challenging the status quo or social taboos—épater le bourgeois. In the March/April issue of ArtAsiaPacific, we look at ways in which artists are stretching perceptions and, by extension, broadening the world around us.
In Dubai, anything can happen—certainly when compared with the rest of the stern and strife-weary Middle East. The region’s former grandes dames—Cairo, Tehran, Beirut—may well contest Dubai’s claim to being a cultural beacon, just as the West cynically dismisses it as frivolous and hollow. Yes, Dubai is an upstart, bristling with impatience and impertinence.
In Taus Makhacheva’s three-minute video Walk (2010), a jagged cliff zigzags across the frame producing a line of perspective. Three points demarcate the division between the ocher earth and a brilliant blue sky, and a figure in black comes into view walking at a steady pace, bisecting the landscape. This same dark figure features in another work, Endeavour (2010), which was filmed on the same day.
It was 1978 and change was in the air in China. Mao Zedong had died just two years earlier, and the nation began to reawaken after 30 years of oppression that had claimed over 50 million lives. As the Bamboo Curtain lifted, young, daring voices called out for freedom and reform, heralding in what became known as the Beijing Spring.
French philosopher Gilles Deleuze once proposed “nomadology” as an alternative to Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel’s concept of history, which had held sway since the Enlightenment. For Deleuze, history was not a rational process by which mankind progressed to a more perfect state—it instead followed natural or “nomadic” principles, ebbing and flowing with no fixed destination.
The survey of Iranian-born, Minneapolis-based artist Siah Armajani, held at London’s Parasol Unit in late 2013, cleverly represented his sizable oeuvre despite the constraints of a modest gallery space. With a practice that spans more than five decades, and includes many substantial public works, this was a challenging curatorial task.
After 25 minutes of fruitless trundling around the lanes of Sushant Lok, asking directions and avoiding wildlife, we bump into Subodh Gupta’s car and tailgate into his studio. A bold modernist structure completed five years ago, it’s an imposing sight amid the neoclassical developments infesting this suburb of Gurgaon, a booming but underregulated city just southwest Delhi.