Alternative spaces in Asia
- Yasuko Furuichi
Alternative spaces have stimulated and disrupted bureaucratic and static environments that stem from situations unique to Asian countries. As opposed to the definition provided in the Euro-American model in which alternative spaces are positioned against the mainstream, alternative spaces in this discussion are a group of contemporary art spaces which can be loosely identified as artist-run and independent curator-run spaces that do not have direct support from the state and government bodies in general. These spaces provide exhibition venues for national and international artists, develop educational programmes, raise the profile of curatorial methods and publish art magazines. In addition, the staff of alternative spaces can provide foreign curators with the latest local information, whereas in the past, certain curators were able to monopolize negotiations between arts professionals and local artists. Some of these alternative spaces have since attained privileged positions that have also exposed them to criticism.
Since 2000 these alternative spaces, many of which are artist-run, have founded non-profit organizations and transformed their activities and organizational structures. Because these spaces are financially dependent on grants from foreign cultural institutions or their national governments, they have difficulty securing long-term funds and management. While the flexibility and agility of these organizations risks their survival, the priority is in creating a space for young artists and curators to pursue experimental activities, rather than maintaining the status quo or becoming part of the establishment. The activities particular to alternative spaces are not necessarily a counter movement against mainstream arts activities; they may be more accurately described as a means of survival for new art....