An Opera for AnimalsJun 22, 2019 - Aug 25, 2019

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  • About the exhibition

    Rockbund Art Museum, Shanghai and Para Site, Hong Kong are pleased to announce the opening of "An Opera for Animals" on June 22, 2019 at Rockbund Art Museum Shanghai. The exhibition runs through to 25 August 2019 and features 53 artists who challenge existing boundaries between art and other disciplines, including artisans, healers, teachers, researchers, filmmakers, choreographers, activists and poets.

    "An Opera for Animals" takes the history of different versions of opera as a departure point to explore both contemporary and traditional uses of performance, fantasy, and group spectacles in relationship to the environments that they inhabit. Intimately connected to the making of myths, the fabrication of events, orchestration, and invention of new technologies, opera emerged seeking to synthesize different aesthetic forms into a unified experience audiences could immerse themselves within. Like the complex history of the museum or exhibition, it has gradually developed into another collective kind of ritual. At the height of its development in the West, opera increasingly became conjoined to the vision and forceful influence of colonization, and we re-contemplate the medium as a compromised interface that precipitated struggles with indigenous worlds and other knowledge systems.

    Despite the fact that colonization has seemingly ended in many parts of the world, the struggle to preserve indigenous forms of heterogeneity still lives itself out into the contemporary age today. This other world outside of what is considered ‘high culture’ has always been a source of fear and intrigue for opera, it has long been an inseparable reservoir of imagination for the medium to replenish itself in spite of its outward ambition to reach and supplant it. Beyond the specter of phantoms in opera, animals and cultural narratives around animals reemerge in the exhibition as extensions to infiltrate and expand the specificity of opera as an institutionalized setting to consider the pattern of the relationship between our modernity and the natural world. Our interest lies in how the medium inadvertently mutated into an expanded stage for other more unpredictable transitions between notions of animality and our humanity. The exhibition at the Rockbund Art Museum will unfold throughout the different levels to offer a different operatic environment to explore these inter-related themes.

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  • About the curators

    Cosmin Costinas is the Executive Director/Curator of Para Site, Hong Kong since 2011 and Artistic Director of Kathmandu Triennale 2020. He was Guest Curator at the Dakar Biennale 2018, La Biennale de l’Art africain contemporain, DAK’ART (2018), Curator of Dhaka Art Summit 18’ (2018), Co-curator of the 10th Shanghai Biennale (2014), Curator of BAK-basis voor actuele kunst, Utrecht (2008-2011), Co-curator of the 1st Ural Industrial Biennial, Ekaterinburg (2010), and Editor of documenta 12 Magazines, documenta 12, Kassel (2005–2007).

    At Para Site, Costinas oversaw the institution's major expansion and relocation to a new home in 2015, and curated the exhibitions: ‘An Opera for Animals’ (touring to Rockbund Art Museum, Shanghai, in 2019); 'A beast, a god, and a line’ (touring at Dhaka Art Summit ‘18, TS1/The Secretariat, Yangon, and Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw, 2018); ‘Movements at an Exhibition, Manuel Pelmus’ (2017-2018); ‘Soil and Stones, Souls and Songs’ (with Inti Guerrero, touring at MCAD, Manila and Jim Thompson Art Center, Bangkok, 2016-2017); ‘A Journal of the Plague Year’ (with Inti Guerrero, touring at The Cube, Taipei; Arko Art Center, Seoul; and Kadist Art Foundation and The Lab, San Francisco; 2013-2015).

    Hsieh Feng-Rong is senior curator and founding staff member of Rockbund Art Museum; he joined Rockbund Art Museum in 2009 during its preparatory stage. He was the coordinator of the renovation process and implemented the institutional structure of the museum. In 2013, he got involved in founding the first HUGO BOSS ASIA ART award and was also the project manager for the award. With the rise and development of Arts Museum in China, Hsieh is concerned about the changing roles this institute should play and how it can retain its self-criticality. He continues to explore the relationships between arts and the audience and how these relationships can be redefined. Recently, he focuses on topics related to performance as method and has curated a series of talks and events along this line of thinking. Meanwhile, he hopes to inspire more cross-cultural and cross-regional conversations, furthering explorations of mechanism of visuality. Recent exhibitions curated by Hsieh include: “Walking on the Fade out Lines” (co-curated with Larys Frogier, 2018, Shanghai), “Tell Me a Story: Locality and Narrative” (co-curated with Amy Cheng, 2018, Fondazione Sandretto, Turin), “RAM HIGHLIGHT 2018: Is It My Body?” (2018, Shanghai).

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  • About Rockbund Art Museum

    For over nine years Rockbund Art Museum has been at the forefront of the growing contemporary art scene in China, presenting world-class programs in a unique museum setting. A boutique museum of the utmost quality, RAM holds a unique position within Shanghai’s continually expanding cultural scene. The museum is located within the Bund district and housed in an exquisite heritage Art Deco building, which was renovated by the architect David Chipperfield before opening in 2010.

    The museum’s exemplary curatorial, education and research programs showcase acclaimed and emerging Chinese and international artists, responding to and reflecting on present and urgent challenges of society locally and internationally. RAM presents a bold and pioneering program of three exhibitions and a special project “RAM HIGHLIGHT” per year, exploring and realizing artists’ most ambitious projects and working with them to tailor exhibitions to the Museum and to the Shanghai context, often with a large proportion of works being new commissions. RAM devises, produces and curates its program in-house, in conjunction with carefully selected international collaborations of the highest quality. For more information, please visit: www.rockbundartmuseum.org

  • About Para Site

    Para Site is Hong Kong’s leading contemporary art centre and one of the oldest and most active independent art institutions in Asia. It produces exhibitions, publications, discursive, and educational projects aimed at forging a critical understanding of local and international phenomena in art and society. Founded in early 1996 as an artist run space, Para Site was Hong Kong’s first exhibition-making institution of contemporary art and a crucial self-organised structure within the city’s civil society, during the uncertain period preceding its handover to Mainland China. Throughout the years, Para Site has grown into a contemporary art centre, engaged in a wide array of activities and collaborations with other art institutions, museums, and academic structures in Hong Kong and the international landscape. For more information, please visit: www.para-site.art

    Para Site’s activities are made possible by the generous support of its patrons, and grants from foundations and the Government of the HKSAR.

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