Art Spaces Directory

The foreword by Lisa Phillips, Director of the New Museum, explains the scope of this huge publication by the museum (in collaboration with Art Asia Pacific magazine and the Museum as Hub initiative) in connection with its recent “The Ungovernables” exhibition, for which Eungie Joo was the curator. The book contains essays by Victor Albarracin, Elaine W. Ng, Reem Fadda, Naiza H. Kahn,, and Catalina Lozano, and a conversation with Christine Tohme and Stefan Kalmár, but most importantly it includes single-page descriptions of 400 art spaces in 96 countries, arranged by regions. These art spaces are, as Phillips points out, “crucial venues to foster communities as well as platforms for younger artists.”

We haven’t seen anything like this directory since the demise of the National Association of Artists’ Organizations, whose directories this new Art Spaces Directory resembles in some ways. But the New Museum project is far broader in reach, and its depiction of the art spaces more thorough. Each page, laid out in a manner suggestive of a web page, brings together color photos, location info, opening hours, funding sources, and other information with a few short paragraphs (provided by the art spaces themselves) about the institution and very helpful caption info for the photos of the organizations and the works they’ve exhibited.

The book is so massive, one wouldn’t want to carry it on vacation, but the information in it is a guide to lively and important art institutions around the world. It’s possible to raise concerns about spaces that are left out, but it’s impossible to ignore the degree and value of the information contained in the book. To those familiar with what used to be called the “alternative space movement,” the essays will provide an update on what artist-initiated and alternative art spaces have become (some familiar stories and some not familiar). For those not already familiar with these kinds of art spaces, the book provides a window onto the most vibrant sector of the art world.

In an era dominated by art fairs, blockbuster biennials, the high-stakes art market, and the art stars who frequent those rarified zones, Art Spaces Directory demonstrates that there is indeed world-wide art activity that privileges the art over the hype and provides meeting points for the artists driving that activity and the audiences that they deserve.

— Glenn Harper

Book Information:
Art Spaces Directory
Edited by Eungie Joo and Ethan Swann
New Museum/Art Asia Pacific, 2012
$45 448 pages, paperback

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