在上個世紀末，許多政府逐漸開放、且介於經濟起飛之際的亞洲國家，在充斥多元革新的社會氛圍下，藝術家們紛紛開始仿效歐美，於各不相同的文化、政治情勢中，以自身所能觸及的資源，自我組織成一個個形貌不一、而各具實驗功能的「替代／另類空間」（alternative art space，後簡稱「替代空間」）。有別於美術館與畫廊圍牆高聳，在那個年代中，這些空間在不同的城市發揮了它們與在地緊密的關連，同時成為各種在地藝術生態最為前哨的基地，引領當代藝術圈風潮。
「替代空間」一詞對於台灣藝術界並不陌生，而歷經台灣替代空間與鄰近東北亞、東南亞國家多年的交流、互訪之後，如今耳熟能詳的替代空間名單也從本土推向了島嶼之外的鄰近「亞洲」。然而，在台灣，我們所盛為討論的「亞洲當代藝術」現況，常是泛指歐洲觀點的「遠東（Far East）」，而不包含該觀點中的「中東（Middle East）」。因此，對於西亞與南亞藝術現狀的理解，將伴隨著台灣對於藝術世界亞洲版圖認識論的左移，才能得以提供嶄新而陌生的視野及提問。
About “Art Spaces in West & South Asia”
At the end of the last century, governments in Asia gradually became more liberal over time while local economies were taking off. The era was marked by a social atmosphere that urged for innovations and changes, where artists, using the resources immediately available under diverse cultural and political context, started to follow the models prevalent in the Europe and the US to formulate alternative art spaces featuring various experimental functions and spirits. Different from the high walls characterizing museums and galleries, these emerging alternative spaces, tightly embedded within their local context, have acted as avant-garde outposts, pioneering domestic art trends in homegrown creative ecologies.
Likewise, Taiwanese art scene is not unfamiliar with such concept of alternative spaces. After years of cultural exchange and mutual visits with peer organizations across Northeast and Southeast Asia, the cognitive horizon when it comes to alternative spaces has expanded from a list of domestic candidates to neighboring places in the region outside of the island – that being said – mainstream discussions in Taiwan around the subject of ‘contemporary art in Asia’ still refer very much to an Euro-centric perspective of the ‘Far East’ which excludes the geographical and cultural areas of the wider ‘Middle East.’ To address this phenomenon and to further the understanding of recent artistic environments within the West and South Asia, a shift to explore westward on the map of Asia in relation to its worldwide artistic development is in turn necessary in order to provide new perspectives and cultivate different line of enquires.
As the largest nonprofit visual art association in Taiwan, Association of the Visual Arts in Taiwan (AVAT) has leveraged its three strands of flagship program – FreeS Art Space, Taiwan Contemporary Art Archives, and the TAIWAN ANNUAL exhibition – as its operational prototype, to continue the organization’s exploration outward strengthening networks with independent art spaces worldwide with its fruitful results after years of dedication to international exchange.
With an aim to realize the plan of ‘Asia Epistemology Westward Drift’ namely a shift in epistemology to drift westward for Asia, AVAT will venture into an untapped territory to proactively consolidate and map out art organizations in West and South Asia. This plan will sort through and organize related information on the operational and functional models of peer art spaces in the region, to plant the seed for future collaboration in the hope of expanding the existing network of cultural exchange and to further share these international resources with the public.