ACAW 2018 kicked off in September at Christie's Auction House in NYC. [Image: Leonard J. De Francisci]

Asia Contemporary Art Week Dazzles New York


For the first time, New York City’s annual Asia Contemporary Art Week (ACAW) will grow to fill an entire season, dazzling audiences with three full months of Asia-centric art exhibitions, studio tours, and educational programming in fall 2018. This expansion comes about during the thirteenth iteration of ACAW, which kicked off September 9 in a keynote lecture by celebrated Indian sculptor and multimedia artist Anita Dube at Christie’s Auction House.

This season’s schedule features contemporary art exhibitions in the New York metropolitan area from over 150 artists whose works highlight East, South, and Central Asia. Exhibitions this year reflect social, political, and economic upheaval, presenting the struggle of artists from across Asia and the United States to grapple with globalization and identity politics. One of this year’s most anticipated signature exhibitions was unveiled October 14 in Jersey City, entitled “Focus Kazakhstan—Thinking Collections: Telling Tales.” In it, Kazakhstan’s preeminent art collective, Kyzyl Tractor, deftly weaves together shamanistic, nomadic, and Sufi traditions against the backdrop of Kazakhstan’s shifting sociopolitical environment, through live and recorded performances. A collaboration between The National Museum of the Republic of Kazakhstan and the Jersey City cultural center Mana Contemporary made it possible to bring this event to audiences in in New Jersey.

From its founding in 2002 by Australian art curator Melissa Chiu, ACAW has always been a truly international endeavor. Chiu was drafted in 2001 by the Asia Society to be the first ever curator of contemporary Asian and Asian-American art in the United States. Under the challenge of convincing contemporary Asian artists to bring their work to New York’s Asia Contemporary Art Consortium, ACAW was born. The annual event has grown in scope and distinction every year since, promoting intercultural exchange between the United States and Asia across a dynamic, artful platform.

The event has even stretched beyond US borders; sprinkled across Asia, ACAW has several consortium partners featuring exhibitions from domestic artists in conjunction with New York City programming. Events running from September to November in Kuala Lumpur, Bangkok, Beijing, and Hong Kong this year showcase contemporary Asian artists and allow local viewers to connect with their work. This consortium network promotes contemporary Asian art across the world, creating linkages between artists, collectors, museums, and audiences from the United States and Asia through ever-changing the media of modern artwork.

Elyse Mark is a Research Intern at the East-West Center in Washington