chillin’ on the west bund boardwalk

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It’s spring! Oh my, oh my! The weather these past few days has been amazing. Warm, sunny, vaguely blue skies! My perception of ‘sky blue’ has totally warped during my time in China. If it’s more blue than yellow, it’s blue! And blue-gray totally counts as blue. Yay spring!

Over the weekend I hung out down in the West Bund area and chilled for a bit on the boardwalk. Ah, so relaxing to just sit and stare out at sky and water. Reminds me a lot of Long Island City in the way that it’s technically still city and not too far from the action, but feels like it’s a world away. LIC is so much more awesome, but I’ll take what I can get!

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a game of cycle polo

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Did you know you could play polo on bikes? Crazy cool. Thank you DAFF (the Design, Art & Fashion Fair at the West Bund a few weekends back) for introducing me to this sport. I will never actually participate in the sport since I can’t for the life of me ride a bike, but I’m glad I know it exists. I feel so up-to-date!

Although I’m not sure what I was more intrigued by: the game of cycle polo itself, that this was happening at a design fair, or that the court was bordered by architecture boards.

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