This text, published in the issue #21 of Koï magazine, aims to present the mission we wish to carry out after five years of existence.

Ce texte, publié au sein du numéro 21 du magazine Koï, vise à présenter la mission que nous souhaitons mener après cinq années d’existence.

Does Contemporary Asian art exist ?

Our association ACA Project — standing for Asian Contemporary Art Project — has intended to provide a greater visibility of Asian art practices for five years. What do we really highlight ? What does the adjective “Asian” imply ? What is its underlying tone ? Following these five years of activity, we have felt an urgent need to question our approach to Asia and to develop our association by sticking to our values and mission to promote Asian art.

An approach among others

Our initial goal was simple : to contribute to a better visibility and understanding of the Asian art scene in France where it remains rather unknown. We gradually defined its limits through our explorations. Would talking about “Asian” art practices be the same as reinforcing a common discourse on art which is evidence of a real heterogeneity ? We thought “Asian” reflected reality but would it be more appropriate to say a view on reality ? Does it refer to  a form of exoticism ? Therefore the adjective “Asian”, without suggesting anything, became a keyword in our definition of a unique perception of art practices though they are different. 

The role played by the confrontation between cultures in the depiction of contemporary Asian art practices has increased since the rise of globalization in the 1990s. If the internalization of contemporary art is said to be the incentive of its standardization and westernization, it also enabled minorities to express themselves and struggle against the effects of uniformity. Talking about “Asian” art is necessary to put its art scene into the limelight  and highlight identities which differ from the mainstream. 

Would associating art to specific nationalities be a problem? According to us, influences drawn from social, cultural, political contexts are more likely to define art practices originating from Asia. .

Contemporary art from Asia

How can we define an “Asian” culture ? As we reflect on this conception, we realized that It would be more accurate to talk about contemporary artforms from Asia that mirror geographical situations and influences without necessarily implying nationalist views.

We think this term can also be used to describe artists who belong to the Asian diaspora all over the world. Nowadays, artists are always on the move and it is needless to say that art turns out to be global.  Many of them try to show their Asian identity through their works even though they were raised abroad. Heritage that was passed on from one generation to another might serve as a source of inspiration for their pieces of art. 

Art and beyond 

This essay, implying self-criticism, tends to reveal the importance of the choice of words which vehicle different views of Asia. Some of them are criticized and related to stereotypes. We attempt to break down these stereotypes about contemporary art but we keep in mind that other fields are concerned : what about Asian cinema, gastronomy and craftsmanship?

Version française tirée du numéro 21 du magazine Koï :