Featuring: looting and restitution of cultural artefacts in Southeast Asia; Anand Patwardhan on film censorship in India; filmmaker Park Chan-wook on photography; the Tokyo Olympics; and much more
What do you do when your cultural heritage is under threat? In this issue, Bangkok-based writer Max Crosbie-Jones investigates a history of the looting and restitution of cultural artefacts in Southeast Asia, and wonders how places like Thailand and Cambodia can move to stem the bleed of objets d’art and stolen antiquities across their borders. The death of infamous British art dealer and Khmer scholar Douglas Latchford last year unearthed decades-worth of precious objects that the so-called adventurer had stashed away in his private collection – which led to their return to Cambodia at the instruction of his daughter. But his donations to various cultural institutions around the world have implicated museums and galleries in the murky business of who they receive artefacts from, how they display them, and whether these institutions are accountable for the return of such objects.
Elsewhere, ArtReview Asia catches up with one of India’s leading documentary filmmakers, Anand Patwardhan, to review the future of the medium in the wake of the rise in proscriptive identity politics in academia, Western-centric markets in the film industry and ever tighter government censorship in India. And how does he cope in spite of all that? “I’m always optimistic,” says Patwardhan. “Not as a political choice, but because it’s a form of survival. If you’re not optimistic, then you commit suicide, either physically or mentally.”
Also in this issue…
Park Chan-wook departs from the world of filmmaking and offers ArtReview Asia a sneak-peek into his latest series of photography. Although Park has taken photographs of everyday scenes and some of his filmsets since his student days, his first solo exhibition as a photographer opens this October in Busan. In an expanded columns section, Deepa Bhasthi examines the way in which even India’s weather cycles have been co-opted into its politics; Max Crosbie-Jones looks at how recently rediscovered comic-strip archives in Thailand reveal an alternative history of politics there; Arun A.K. considers why the popularity of Indian Parallel Cinema is on the rise; Andy St. Louis reports on the shift of blue-chip international galleries from Hong Kong to Seoul; and Taro Nettleton takes a hatchet to the Tokyo Olympics, arguing that the farcical runup to the opening ceremony was just the tip of the political iceberg.
Mark Rappolt dives deep into leading Korean novelist and activist Hwang Sok-yong’s autobiography as the author struggles to find the truths of his life, as a writer, a soldier, a priest, a husband, a North Korean, a South Korean, a father and a rebel. Plus reviews of new book releases including the latest photobook by Iranian photographer Hoda Afshar, and exhibitions from across the region and beyond by Simon Fujiwara, Mé, Liu Wei, Anthony Chin and Green Zeng, Hetain Patel, Yao Cong, Yukinori Yanagi and more.
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