Towards Now (Or Are We Headed for Somewhere Else?)

Guest editor Ryan Gravel’s “Terminus: Transportation Special Issue” with which the year began introduced spaces in between and the links between them, from M+ and its rail hub in Hong Kong to Atlanta’s Beltline and its public art, alongside Atlanta’s MARTA rail and its older public art program, plus the world’s busiest airport and its vacant fringes on Atlanta’s southside, the Megabus tying together economically abandoned margins, and the provocatively titled “Black Folks on Bikes.” The next issue began with R. B. Kitaj’s First Diasporist Manifesto and continued to the media that connect diasporas, from cassettes to renewed uses of radio. The succeeding issue dealt with “Water” in ways that ranged from the ecofeminism of SeedsInService’s urban gardening to Atlanta artist Michi Meko on how his theme of Black Buoyancy became literal when he found himself unexpectedly submerged. Greece returned as a multilayered topic with a discussion of the ways Athens artists have sought to escape from the city’s “othering” as a site of crisis by re-examining its place at the edge of an often contested sea. Then the July/August issue responded to a difficult 2016 with a glossary essay on “anxiety,” artistic responses to literal and metaphoric sicknesses, a study of the proposed demolition of Marcel Breuer’s final piece of architecture, the Atlanta-Fulton Central Library (now tentatively slated for preservation), and an Italian artist’s request for an open-source search for a cure for his cancer. This last project led to a summer school with “a transdisciplinary curriculum devised on the theme of inhabiting the city and the planet in the age of interconnectivity.” This nod to grounds for global optimism rhymed with the long-enduring smiley-face icon on the cover, quoted from a flag in London’s UTOPIA 2016, a multidisciplinary homage to the quincentenary of Thomas More’s Utopia. As a 40+ year old symbol of persistent cheerfulness in the face of continuous challenge, the icon also made an appropriate symbol for this anniversary year of Art Papers.