museum myth – the new yuz museum

Yet another museum has popped up in China! Because the only thing that China needs (besides more people or more pollution) is more museums! Because museums equal culture! The Yuz Museum opened a few weeks back on May 18, which oh so coincidentally is International Museum Day. Its inaugural exhibition Myth/History: Yuz Collection of Contemporary Art  is a behemoth, by which I mean: holy crap those are giant installations.

140531 a

Zhang Huan, Buddha Hand, 2006
Sun Yuan and Peng Yu, Freedom, 2009
Madein Company, Calm, 2009
Adel Abdessemed, Telle mere tel fils, 2008

The museum is located in the West Bund area, which is … kind of in the middle of no where. It’s fairly removed from the city, it’s a bit of a trek from the subway station, it was hard to find a taxi in the area, and I didn’t see anywhere to eat in my short wander. But what the area does have is space. Longhua Airport used to dominate the area, so the Yuz Museum is actually housed in a former aircraft hangar – hence the beautiful trussed ceiling and large main exhibition space.

It seems like people are throwing money into the West Bund, hoping to transform it into a lucrative cultural area (with an emphasis on the ‘lucrative’). I’m not so sure the culture part will really come through. Last year there was the West Bund Biennale and earlier this year the Long Museum Puxi opened not too far from where the Yuz is, but plopping museums down doesn’t create culture, especially since the Yuz and Long Museums are cut from the same a-little-too-expensively-tailored cloth – they’re museums that are essentially the private collections of filthy rich people. Not really into public programs, high admission fees, and oh, they’re chain museums too. There’s an existing Yuz Museum in Jakarta, Indonesia, and there’s an existing Long Museum in Pudong … also in Shanghai.

The Myth/History exhibition is good, and I do recommend it. It’s interesting for having so many big names all in one museum. It’s like someone bought a book on contemporary Chinese art and made an exhibit from the artists listed. The highlights were definitely the installations in the Great Hall, which is understandable given the building’s layout, so the galleries along the perimeter edge felt a little like afterthoughts – albeit very well-stocked afterthoughts. The Yuz itself makes the list of good museums in Shanghai, but the West Bund area is really annoying to me. Eventually I’ll have to pluck up and make the long trip out again for the Long Museum Puxi, but … ugh.

Myth/History: Yuz Collection of Contemporary Art
May 18 – November 18, 2014

Yuz Museum
35 Fenggu Road, near Longteng Avenue
Xuhui District, Shanghai
Tuesday to Sunday, 10:30 AM – 5:30 PM
Admission: 60 RMB

new york kind of adventure

Galleries in New York are basically free art museums. Sometimes they have super cool exhibitions. Sometimes these super cool exhibitions are really, really popular. I went down to the David Zwirner Gallery in Chelsea last weekend because I wanted to see the exhibition by Doug Wheeler, the one they dub the “Infinity Room”. It looked pretty nifty and last Saturday was its last day, so I left my apartment at 10 AM …

120301 a

And I had a New York kind of adventure. Well, a lot of waiting actually. I spent a total of three and a half hours waiting in the line outside. About halfway in that line, I popped into the David Zwirner Gallery (a different part of it) which had an exhibition by Adel Abdessemed called “Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf” and uh … it was kind of weird. The above piece is called “Décour” and is from that exhibition. It was a series of four representations of Jesus on the cross made out of razor wire. Weird.

There was a nice camaraderie in the line outside and I passed some time chatting with a guy near me who was from Milwaukee. A different guy made a coffee run for those of us who requested stuff and a third guy offered people granola bars. It was actually kind of fun.

120301 b

Anyway, after those three and a half hours on the line outside, I had to wait another hour in an interior space before entering Doug Wheeler’s exhibition. It was spiffy. Wow. So cool. It’s one of those things that you really had to experience because it was all about perspective. The walls were a continuous curve and the way it was lit, there were few shadows and it was really hard to tell depth, so it felt like you were in this white void. And … the lights cycled every 32 minutes from bright ‘day’ to a darkish ‘night’. I think I lucked out because I was in there as it transitioned from the bright to dark and it was freaky cool. It really played with your sense of perception. SO COOL.

120301 c

Then, after all of that I stopped by the Chelsea Market for a really late lunch (it was almost 4 PM by that point) and then took the subway from 14th Street. And that’s where I got to see some of the statues from Tom Otterness’s “Life Underground,” which is a whole bunch of little bronze figures playing all over the station. They make me smile every time! It was an incredibly long, but incredibly awesome day. I definitely need to make it a priority to do more things like this! Oh, and happy March!