Taiwan’s White Fungus art magazine to go global

Riding a wave of recent international success, a publication that started out as an avant-garde art zine has just signed a worldwide distribution deal.

Taiwan-based White Fungus magazine, founded in 2004 in New Zealand by brothers Mark and Ron Hanson, recently signed a major deal for worldwide distribution with London publishers WhiteCirc. This is the latest in a series of developments related to Asian art publications at a time when the region is in focus on the global art scene.

'White Fungus' issue 13 at Free Coffee, Taichung City, Taiwan. Photo by Mark Hanson, courtesy White Fungus.

‘White Fungus’ issue 13 at Free Coffee, Taichung City, Taiwan. Photo by Mark Hanson. Image courtesy White Fungus.

White Fungus is an avant-garde magazine committed to publishing stories, interviews and critically-informed articles on risk-taking visual art, noise and new music. It has grown from humble beginnings – as a project that began on a photocopier nine years ago –  into a publication with an international status. The deal for worldwide circulation with WhiteCirc is expected to increase the circulation of White Fungus threefold. The publishing company has already launched several international magazines and works with eighty distributors in nearly 100 countries. A new edition of the magazine’s current issue will be launched on 1 February 2014 at an inauguration event in Berlin.

White Fungus Editor and Co-founder Ron Hanson told Art Radar that this development had come “both suddenly and slowly at once.”

Over nine years we’ve built a really strong audience and there’s so much texture in our relationship with readers. People have their own idiosyncratic and unique experience with discovering, encountering, and engaging with White Fungus. This has come up through the grassroots and we’re taking a lot of people along for the ride.

This Asia-Pacific based magazine has been strongly informed and influenced by contemporary art and culture in Taiwan and Asia in general. In 2012, it was featured in the “Millennium Magazines” exhibition at New York’s Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), and was written about in The Wire. Both of these acted as catalysts to propel White Fungus into being selected for sixteen international exhibitions and art book fairs, and a magazine residency at Kadist Art Foundation in San Francisco. The Hansons were also invited to speak about the history of the publication at Times Museum, Guangzhou.

The magazine picked up mainstream distributors in Taiwan, New Zealand and Australia, and is currently held in a number of library collections such as MoMA, the New York Public Library, London’s Southbank Centre and Taipei Fine Arts Museum.

White Fungus founders Mark Hanson and Ron Hanson at MOCA Taipei. Photo by Lu Yi, courtesy White Fungus

White Fungus Founders Mark Hanson and Ron Hanson at MOCA Taipei. Photo by Lu Yi. Image courtesy White Fungus.

Asian art in focus

Ron Hanson says that the art scene in Asia is a bit of a mixed bag, viewed with enthusiasm and excitement for its unexpectedness, but also facing criticism for its occasional conventionality.

I think it’s a burgeoning scene, but it’s the scene to watch (…) the main thing that excites me in Asia is a hunger and desire to get things done.

Hanson expects that White Fungus will continue to evolve as the magazine has always done, making interventions in the mainstream and maintaining a commitment to “quality, depth, creating new connections and enabling community.” The magazine is also currently building a new website to expand their online presence.

The international recognition of White Fungus comes in a year that has seen several publishing developments that signal growing interest in Asian art. January 2013 saw the launch of the BlouinARTINFO.com Asia magazine, followed by a biannual Asia edition of ArtReview in May. Additionally, Artshare.com, the world’s first online platform dedicated to the exhibition and sale of contemporary Chinese art, was launched on 15 April 2013.

Kriti Bajaj


Related Topics: art media, Asia expands, art resources

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