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Art collective Slavs and Tatars curates a Central Asian-focused Asia Now fair in Paris

The Berlin-based artist collective Slavs and Tatars will guest curate the ninth edition of Asia Now in Paris, a fair dedicated to artists from Asia. This is the first time since the fair launched in 2014 that artists will serve as the curators, devising an exhibition within the fair as well as the performance and talks programme. For each edition, Asia Now chooses a different region to focus on, and this year, for the first time, it is Central Asia. This is an apt choice as Slavs and Tatars’ projects are dedicated to “the space between the east of the former Berlin Wall and the west of the Great Wall of China”, according to a press release. “It is a part of the world that does not get much attention,” says Alexandra Fain, Asia Now’s director. “We seldom see names from this region in exhibitions or art fairs”.

More specifically, this year’s Asia Now will be dedicated to women artists from Central Asia working in textiles, including the Paris-based Afghani refugee Kubra Khademi. Fourteen such artists will show work throughout the Monnaie de Paris, which is hosting the fair for the second year running. Fain says that the move to the historic institution—the world’s oldest working mint—has contributed to a huge rise in visitor numbers, with figures roughly tripling in 2022 compared with 2020, although some of this increase is due to the lifting of Covid-19 restrictions, she adds.

A handful of Central Asian galleries will also take part this year, including Aspan Gallery from Almaty, Kazakhstan, which has acted as “a central agent” for the region’s art scene, Fain says. The gallery’s founder Meruyert Kaliyeva commissioned the country’s first national pavilion at the 59th Venice Biennale in 2022. Also from Kazakhstan, Astana’s Pygmalion Gallery will also take part, having shown at last year’s Asia Now for the first time.

The Central Asian focus comes after two recent exhibitions in Paris focusing on the region: The Splendours of Uzbekistan’s Oases at the Musée du Louvre and On the Routes of Samarkand at the Institut du Monde Arabe. These exhibitions were the result of a 2018 state visit to France by the Uzbek president Shavkat Mirziyoyev.

More than 85 exhibitors will take part in this year’s Asia Now, including The Third Line from Dubai and Michael Janssen from Berlin. One of the most notable participations will be that of the Myanmar artist Moe Satt, who spent 95 days in prison in Yangon for resisting the military dictatorship that seized control of Myanmar in a coup in February 2021. The artist later spent two years in exile at a residency in Amsterdam. He will show video works with Nova Contemporary gallery from Bangkok and also stage a series of performances during the fair.

Asia Now, Monnaie de Paris, 19-22 October

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