Rockbund Art Museum 上海外滩美术馆

By Day By Night 日以继夜,或美术馆可为之若干事

25 October 2010 – 3 January 2011
2010年 10月 25日 – 2011年 1月 3日

The creation of the Rockbund Art Museum indicates a revival, or, a renaissance, of an important institution with a turbulent history in an energetic pursuit to embrace a brilliant future. From its earlier days as the RAS building and “Shanghai Museum,” to its opening as a Public Library, and now re-emerging as an contemporary art museum, the establishment has always been a major site of testimony to and memory of the city’s eventual composition, from its colonial past to the current process of modernization via communist revolution. This complex and often perplexing history has made Shanghai a world legend, and one of the most dynamic, thrilling, and promising of global cities. While toiling in hard negotiations, in double binds, in a deeply contradictory identity as a cultural and political hybrid, in the meantime Shanghai provokes so many fantasies and dreams. In spite of all of the complications, amongst the population there is always an irreducible optimism and confidence that drives the city forward. This renders the metropolis with a most spectacular urban-scape. Further, it is a city where life never stops: in the day, Shanghai is an enterprising center of economic and urban activities, accentuated by the uproaring noise of traffic, machines, and commerce. In the night, the streets are then invaded by the most electrifying symphony of all kinds of sounds that mix the night market hubbub with popular karaoke outcries — between hidden dark corners and dazzling neon lights, the city is turned into a paradise for leisure, culture and pleasure, with a flair of seduction, dream and fleur-du-mal style of poesy and adventure…

Shanghai is also a unique site for contemporary art production. The art world there has been an avant-garde in the developments of Chinese modern and contemporary art, while growing intertwiningly with the city’s extraordinary history. Artists’ projects have long been integral to processes of urban expansion and of opening up towards the rest of the world. Actually, the Shanghai art world could even been considered as the most outstanding representation of the city’s development over time. Different from most of the “avant-garde” movements in China that biases towards collective claims and struggles, the artists in Shanghai have formed a tradition that privileges individuality and self-reflection. Independence and singularity are emphasized as the superior way to freedom of imagination and expression. Criticality, however, has never been in lack. It is found in almost all art production. Instead of artists being over-passionate and confrontational, most choose to express their views on both reality and inner-life with distance, transcendence and also with a great degree of humour, irony and playfulness. They are radically urbane. They not only claim for freedom in images and words, but also embody it in their body language and everyday acts…

It is with optimism and self-confidence that artists respond to a strange and quasi-grotesque fusion of consumerism and political control—the symptomatic reality of our globalized world today, incarnated so perfectly by China, and in particular Shanghai—that has become a crucial challenge to Shanghai’s art scene. Shanghai welcomes a wave of museum boom and art market growth, as seen in the foundation and maturation of institutions like the Shanghai Biennial, as it provides unique conditions for artistic and cultural production. Artists from the city and the country are not only encouraged to develop more experimental works, but the entire international art world is also beckoned to this site of research, discussion and production that is still rapidly flourishing. The opening of Rockbund Art Museum is the latest effort to keep the city on the global map of artistic production.

In this context, I propose to curate a project entitled, By Day, By Night, or some (special) things a museum can do.

Nine artists who are among the most active in both Chinese and international art worlds today are invited to Shanghai to study, research and explore the histories and realities of both the city and of the Rockbund Art Museum. Most of them will arrive to then spend two to three weeks in a residency (organized by the museum) to produce site-specific projects for the exhibition. During this time, the artists may give lectures and run workshops, as well as carry out other activities, in order to establish exchanges and collaborations with the local art community and the larger public. Likewise, local art organizations will be invited to make specific contributions to the project’s events.

The exhibition structure entails two distinct but intertwined components that create an intimate and efficient relationship amongst the artists, the works, the events, the institution, the participants, and the realities of Shanghai’s city life. The exhibition, or the event, is to unfold throughout the daytime and into the nighttime, with constant surprises.

During the day, a more materialized aspect of artistic and intellectual productions will be exposed in the site, where the public can experience a certain visible set of recollections around the dynamic and spectacular urban development and the material growth of the modernization process. This will appear as a more stable and tangible format of an “exhibition”…

In the night, all of these abiding and solid forms gradually soften. Objects lose their materiality and dissolve into fluid and uneasily graspable flux and “ether”… The exhibition will be intruded upon and even replaced by more flexible and interactive occurrences that, on the one hand, reveal things that are usually hidden or ignored by the busy and bright daytime activities, and on the other, invite the public’s participation in the most relaxed of ways. This is an invitation to the city and its population to enjoy something remarkably other than what is encountered in both day-to-day life and during ordinary night entertainments. Artists will initiate all kinds of performances — from lectures to concerts — while a film festival is planned to feature selected favorite inspirations of the participating artists. A night school proposed by several local educational organizations, will present lectures, workshops, symposiums and other activities, and open itself as a platform for professionals of various disciplines.

The project intends to compose an event that functions, to some extent, in the same rhythm as the real life of this non-stop city itself. By turning into an articulated space and time of city life, By Day, By Night, or some (special) things a museum can do strives to become an integrate and even intimate part of urban society. This is where one can find the genuine relevance and coherence of the museum’s undertaking. Ultimately, this helps the newly reborn Rockbund Art Museum define its mission and its functions in the early stage of an ambitious plan through which the art space can eventually become an original institution for contemporary art and culture in Shanghai. This uniqueness, at first, can be discovered in the conceptual expansion of both the exhibition and the museum as being primarily recognized by their conventional devices of collection, representation and dissemination of existing art works, to a site of conception, production and new presentation of the works that offer opportunities for public participation and dialogue between the art world and society.

上海外滩美术馆的成立意味着一所曾具有重要历史意义机构的复苏和复兴,它体现了复杂的历史和对其光辉未来的无限向往。从最初的亚洲文会大楼和“上海博物馆”到日后的公共图书馆,到如今的上海外滩美术馆,她以当代艺术博物馆的形式再一次出现在公众面前。她的建立,伴随其复杂而动荡的历史,一直以来都是上海这座城市从殖民时代到共产主义革命带来的现代化进程的重要见证和记忆所在。而这错综复杂的历史恰恰将上海塑造为最具活力、激情和潜力的国际性大都市之一。同时拥有充满神秘色彩的过去和创造了无数神话和梦想的现在,上海是全世界的一个传奇。与此同时,作为文化和政治的结合体,人们从未停止过对其矛盾身份的争辩和诠释。但另一方面,在这座城市的背后总有一股强大的自信和乐观主义精神推动着她前行,这也为上海带来了惊人的城市规模和永不停息的城市生活:白天,在嘈杂的交通,贸易和机器轰鸣的驱动下,磷化液 切削液上海是最具活力和生产力的经济金融中心和都市活动中心。夜间,上海以其魅惑的气质、充满梦想的特性和“恶之花”式的诗意格调变身为顶级休闲、文化和娱乐的天堂,大街小巷也充斥着各种交响乐,混杂着夜市的喧闹嘈杂和卡拉OK厅的高亢旋律。




Installation View 展览现场

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