when antique pottery fails so hard

You ever have those days where you’re just, like, so over things? But to your sleep-deprived and highly-caffeinated mind, it’s hilarious? That’s how I’ve been feeling lately. And that’s how I felt when I saw these pieces that were on display at the Aurora Museum in Shanghai. They’re probably still there. I want to meet the curator and shake his/her hand for displaying such wonderful pieces that scream “FAIL” in such a wonderfully amazing manner.

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Because even though these two pieces of pottery totally fail (all collapsed and what-not), the fact that they’ve survived from the Yuan Dynasty and made it into a museum collection is just fantastic. I love it. When we see historical objects in a museum, they’re usually all just so pristine and untouchable and holier-than-thou perfect, even when they’re broken fragments. But these aren’t just ‘broken’, they’re failures in craftsmanship. That just makes me smile!

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clowns, color, and more clowns

Clowns. Lots and lots of clowns. Are you afraid of clowns? Let’s hope not.

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Over at the Rockbund Art Museum, there’s a trippy new solo exhibition by Swiss artist Ugo Rondinone called Breathe Walk Die. It’s part performance art and part installation, with 40 people dressed as clowns seated, lying down, or reposing against railings and columns. The bright gradient walls and circular paintings of the museum’s four main gallery floors complete the bulk of the exhibition.

I wouldn’t say I have a particular phobia about clowns, but … there’s something about the falseness of a clown, that supposed ‘harbinger of happiness’ that makes me uncomfortable. It’s just too fake; there just has to be something supremely dark and twisty underneath it all. The exhibition is pretty cool though. It’s just … oy. Clowns.

Ugo Rondinone: Breathe Walk Die
September 13, 2014 – January 4, 2015

Rockbund Art Museum
rockbundartmuseum.org
20 Huqiu Road, Huangpu District, Shanghai
Tuesdays to Sundays, 10 AM – 6 PM

‘the equinox’ at moma (tbt)

From last summer at MoMA: seven sculptures grouped together in an installation called The Equinox by Swiss-born American artist Carol Bove. Technically The Equinox is an arrangement rather than an installation (id est, an exhibition rather than a work in itself). When I first walked into the room and saw it I was like … what am I looking at?  The sculptures aren’t impressive ‘wow’ kind of pieces, but there were a serene, beautiful kind of harmony. And I’m a sucker for modernism.

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Carol Bove, The Equinox (installation view and detail), 2013

creepy freaky cool: metamorphosis – mirror

There are only a few weeks left for this exhibition! And I definitely recommend it … if you’re okay with the possibility of nightmares. I quite like OCAT Shanghai, a decently-sized museum specializing in contemporary multimedia art that’s located along the north side of Suzhou River. I’ve never been a big media/video art person, but I’ve liked every exhibition of theirs I’ve been to.

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I took some non-art friends to the opening of the Metamorphosis – Mirror exhibition and at the end of the exhibition, one friend turned to me and said, “I’m going to have nightmares tonight.” Ha. I found it pretty great. Creepy and freaky, but great. Both artists (Daniel Lee and Roger Ballen) work largely in photography, but there were some videos and it was very thought-provoking.

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Daniel Lee’s work (above) was creepy as hell, morphing animals and people. Very well done, but disturbing to see people transformed (or rather metamorphosed) like that. On the other side of the museum, Roger Ballen’s work (below) was even creepier. Square black and white photos of weird people and scenes. Oh, and the loud thumping video? That would be the music video for Die Antwoord’s “I Fink U Freeky” that Roger Ballen collaborated on. My friends and I watched it twice … in shocked silence.

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Metamorphosis – Mirror: A Double Solo Show by Daniel Lee and Roger Ballen
July 13 – September 14, 2014

OCT Contemporary Art Terminal (OCAT)
ocatshanghai.com
1016 North Suzhou Road
Zhabei District, Shanghai
Tuesday to Thursday and Sunday, 10 AM – 7 PM
Friday and Saturday, 11 AM – 9 PM

cafa art for the soul

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Life, it’s always getting in the way of things, eh? Here are more pictures from the CAFA show last month in Beijing! I gotta say, I was duly impressed. Not only were the students’ works amazing, but the museum itself was beautiful. White walls, good lighting, and high ceilings make my day any day!

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Oy. It’s been crazy busy lately. A few weeks back I was in Beijing for work and caught the exhibition of postgraduate work at the CAFA (Central Academy of Fine Arts) Museum. Not sure if it’s still up or not, but it was definitely a treat. CAFA’s probably the best art school in the nation, and the student work was pretty darn amazing.

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Yang Zhou (杨洲), Zha (扎), 2014

This installation consisted of ceramic spikes and ready-made furniture by Yang Zhou. I found it immensely appealing and eerily familiar since growing up, my room always had white walls and white furniture (in every single house). The use of understated furniture, the blank whiteness of it all, the spikes that almost look like grass and therefore somehow don’t seem that dangerous … it’s a quiet sort of terror that reminds me of The Virgin Suicides, that kind of whitewashed dread that lurks beneath every pretty facade.

Lots more to show, stay tuned!

animamix biennale at moca shanghai

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Han Yajuan, (detail)

The Animamimx Biennale is closing at the end of the week at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Shanghai. Since I still haven’t posted anything about it … I’m getting on that now :)

The group show is all about the animated, so it’s a mixed bag of artists and mediums – illustration, painting, video, sculpture, mixed media, et cetera. Not my cup of tea, but overall a good show. On the ground floor, Lu Yang’s Uterusman is weird and some of the paintings by Viki Lulu House (an artist collective) are just too cute, but I found the film Time of Cherry Blossoms by Tsai Shiucheng on the second floor was quite moving and the top floor’s Little Mona Lisa special exhibition interesting.

I don’t have a favorite museum in Shanghai, but MOCA is pretty solid and definitely on the upper half of the list. And given all the new museums popping up around China, MOCA, which was established in 2005 and is located in People’s Park, is one of Shanghai’s more established art museums even though it’s not even ten years old. Crazy, right? Since it’s not a very big museum and doesn’t have a permanent collection, it doesn’t warrant multiple trips per exhibition for me, but I’ll look into getting a membership for next year regardless.

Sigh … I miss having free admission to New York museums!

Animamix Biennale: Rediscovery
April 12 – June 15, 2014

MOCA Shanghai
mocashanghai.org
People’s Park, 231 Nanjing West Road, Shanghai
Sunday to Thursday, 10 AM – 6 PM
Friday to Saturday, 9 AM – 7 PM
Admission: 50 RMB

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.

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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

advance through retreat (or walk on by)

Two weeks back I went to the opening of Advance through Retreat, the current exhibition at the Rockbund Art Museum. The title comes from The Art of War by Sun Tzu, and supposedly the exhibition is all about contemporary artists using tradition for progress … or some-such.

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Andreas Mayer-Brennenstuhl, Rewriting Modernity; De-growth Now, 2014

The show was decent enough, but it’s not something I would really recommend, and I probably won’t visit again. It was just kind of blah. Certainly there were some interesting pieces (the video by Pablo Wendel, Terracotta Warrior – Xi’an PR China, 2006, is pretty hilarious), but group exhibitions are tricky because the concept needs to be really strong to tie things together, especially with a space as gigantic as the RAM. Basically I found the exhibition very scattered. If you actually took the time to read the introduction, you could get a feel for what Martina Koeppel-Yang (the curator) was trying to do, but her words didn’t come through the works very well.

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On Socialist Democracy and the Chinese Legal System

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Jimmie Durham, ARC DE TRIOMPHE for Personal Use, 1996

It’s hard to follow-up Bharti Kher’s exhibition, and since this exhibition will run through the summer, you have to forgive it for being a bit lacking. Summer exhibitions tend to be throwaways because people are either too busy enjoying themselves on vacation or it’s too darn hot to do anything but sit in front of the air conditioner. Anyhow, if you’re bored and have 30 RMB to burn, you might as well visit the Rockbund.

Advance through Retreat
May 10 – August 03, 2014

Rockbund Art Museum
rockbundartmuseum.org
20 Huqiu Road, Huangpu District, Shanghai
Tuesday to Sunday, 10 AM – 6 PM

a dream i dreamed in the park

Today is March 29th, which means that tomorrow, MoCA’s exhibition will close. So of course I’m just now getting around to posting about the exhibition. ‘Cause I’m on top of things like that. The exhibition A Dream I Dreamed is a solo show by the really famous Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama. And it was good. Lots of dots. Very playful. Though the 50 RMB ticket price seemed a bit steep and the waits were crazy, I definitely enjoyed myself … though would’ve had a better experience if there was more time and fewer people.

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With All My Love for the Tulips, I Pray Forever

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Narcissus Garden

The roof/top floor balcony of the museum was a nice spot for a break from the hustle of the floors below and Narcissus Garden worked well up there. Since MoCA (Museum of Contemporary Art) is located in People’s Park, there was a great view of the hazy Shanghai skyline and the surrounding park. This was easily one of my favorite moments of the exhibition because I love it when art interacts with architecture and the city, when there’s that sense of context and space. Plus, the stainless steel spheres are much more in line with my personal aesthetic.

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Obliteration Room

This room was like a nightmare for me. The exhibition started in December with Obliteration Room as a white space with white furnishings. Upon entering, you’re handed a sheet of stickers, which you can place anywhere. I like the interactive aspect of it, but I HATE STICKERS. Or rather I HATE (pressure-sensitive) ADHESIVE. If they’re firmly adhered and there’s no possibility that they would have to be removed later on or they’re loosely adhered to be easily removed (like drafting tape or price tags) – that’s fine. Stickers in that gray area of semi-permanence, that eventually start to peel up and leave that icky residue … ew ew ew.

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My Eternal Soul series

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Love Forever series

I felt that her flat works were much less successful. Strong use of color and line, but nowhere near as evocative as her more spatial works. These were just kind of eh and easily forgettable.

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Infinity Mirrored Room – Love Forever

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Dots Obsession

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Infinity Mirrored Room – Gleaming Lights of the Souls

Where Yayoi Kusama shines is in her installations. Color, light, and mirrors, oh my! Amazing. Very well thought out and constructed. My only complaint was having to queue up for so long for such a brief glimpse! It would be nice to go back and see some parts of the exhibition again (especially the Infinity Mirrored Rooms!), but the last days of an exhibition are always the worst and I really have no patience for some of these Chinese crowds. Factor in the cost and time as well, and I think I’ll have to pass. It was a very cool exhibition though, so if you haven’t had a chance to see it … make haste! I didn’t find it profound or awe-inspiring or anything lofty like that, it was just … fun. And sometimes that’s enough.

Kusama Yayoi: A Dream I Dreamed
December 15th, 2013 – March 30th, 2014

MOCA Shanghai
mocashanghai.org
People’s Park, 231 Nanjing West Road, Shanghai
Sunday to Thursday, 10 AM – 6 PM
Friday to Saturday, 9 AM – 7 PM