Philip Tinari is director of the Ullens Center for Contemporary Art in Beijing, and founding editor of LEAP, the international art magazine of contemporary China.
Already slightly retro at this moment, the bulletin board art-ba-ba–the name a cheeky reference to the sourcing site alibaba, which seemed oh so poignant a few years ago–has done for the Chinese art world what printed newspapers did for nationalism. With crowdsourced uploads of photos from exhibitions around China and the world interspersed with snarky threaded anonymous commentary of the sort that’s all since disappeared in the age of twitter, this was and remains a great window into how the Chinese art world is interpreting itself.
I have high hopes for this beta-testing twitter-tumblr hybrid, where you get to call dibs on works you like, or second the choices of friends and strangers, by adding them to your infinite scroll-down “stack.” This “stacking,” the site’s central metaphor, is a simple but compelling digital speech-act. It at once allows for no-budget virtual collecting and makes the expression of taste performative, which is one of the things the art world has always been about.
Coldcut Hut is the blog of an anonymous art-world Italian-American who writes cathartically in hard-edged Delilloesque cadences about the doings of our strange subculture (as well as his tragically troubled family) as if it were a sandwich shop in South Philly.
If you too have come to find Monocle’s Japan obsession tired, don’t blame it on the recipient of their affections. Just read this site, which gives thick real-time commentary on cultural trends so nuanced you have to click through on at least thirty percent of the links just to understand them–pace a recent ode to the 1981-born preppie style magazine “CanCam” (short for “I Can Campus”) and all its changing position in the Japanese semiosphere. A merry, obsessive band of mostly Tokyo-based contributors spearheaded by the indefatigable W. David Marx benefits from the brilliant font sense of designer Ian Lynam.
Noah Sheldon, Taipei, Taiwan
New York artist and photographer Noah Sheldon relocated to Shanghai last year when his wife, the architect Maggie Peng, took a job there. The results of their extended sojourn are becoming visible in what is the best example to date of photographic bemusement (of the compassionate variety) at the situation on the ground here. He avoids all the common pitfalls of the default “look at the crazy Chinese” posture so prevalent among even the best China-based photographers and gives us instead dilapidated suburban developments and confident young office ladies bathed in perfect grey-orange light. And then there are his photos of Kazakhstan.
For years the go-to clearinghouse on things Urban and Media and Chinese, Jeremy Goldkorn’s danwei stopped giving away what ultimately proved to be extremely valuable information last year, transitioning to a fee-for-service consultancy and a public “web magazine about China.” Still, the 2003-2011 archives are available for the curious, offering a blow-by-blow recount of the explosion of the Chinese media savvy over the past decade.
Renowned composer Nico Muhly’s voracious intellect and conversational style makes for great sustained reading. In the four years I’ve been looking at this site his career has come quite a long way but his exuberance for choral music, cooking, and Nordic linguistics has not abated. The blog seems to be where Muhly works through new ideas and processes recent happenings, and the access it offers into a world of orchestras and operas is hard to come by elsewhere.
8 ) tablethotels.com
There is no better procrastination device than travel planning, be that for work or pleasure, and after too many mishaps booking unvetted hotels for self and colleagues, I’ve come to appreciate the pre-selection that goes into the choices available here.
That most generous and innovative of museum websites, relaunched late last year, the Walker’s new online home turns a predictable genre into a curated conversation. A risky move but one that should pay off.
Every society gets the social networking site it deserves, and the “Chinese Twitter,” despite the restrictions, can claim a few things its older, free-world cousin can’t–embedded photos and video, threaded responses, and wider saturation among legions of non-posting readers. The oft-commented-upon disparity between what can be said in 140 letters versus Chinese characters means a constant stream of mini-essays. In these two years the public sphere it has cultivated has completely upset the older informational rhythms of the state but also the art world, with viral mini-scandals over things like whose work was projected versus played on a screen at a recent survey of Chinese video art erupting daily. If only the gallery assistants would stop using long strings of mentions as a way of insuring eyeballs for their press releases.