Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Art is popping up all over town, says the article. Himm...

Many people find that art is distant and irrelevant to their daily lives. So every single day this year, a people-friendly art and cultural event will pop up somewhere in the city.

The Chinese contemporary art market booms, but art is still far away from most people's daily lives. This is where "Intrude: Art and Life 366" comes in, or intrudes: 366 days of this leap year and often right in front of you.

You will see surprising events. An ordinary house is turned into a museum one day a month; doves connected with strings are tossed into the air; a pretty dress will be hung on every tree on a certain street.

One the one hand, some artists believe that art is loftier than life, rather than springing from life. Their works are often considered irrelevant to daily life and not worth understanding.

And it is still uncommon to see art events in public venues other than galleries or museums. Most galleries care more about professional art buyers or agents, and museums open their doors to the public while keeping them at homage-paying distance.

On the other hand, the public is not very interested in contemporary art either, unless it's related to entertainment industry or celebrities.

Many artists are grappling with this problem. Some have merged all kinds of daily essentials like clothes, cosmetics, snacks, or dishes into artistic creations. Open studios in art centers like Moganshan Road in Shanghai or 798 in Beijing have also attracted crowds.

Enter "Intrude." Organized by the Shanghai Zendai Museum of Modern Art, MoMA, it began January 1 and will last through December 31-with an event every day in every creative field.

Throughout the year, 366 cultural events will be presented in public and private venues likes parks, gardens, squares, shopping areas, ordinary homes and other sites. Around 100 Chinese and 266 international artists will take part in exhibitions, site-specific installations, performances, concerts, film screenings, debates, and other events.

"The project aims to intervene in people's daily life, draw their attention to art happenings and stimulate the public debate on art," says Shen Qibin, director of MoMA.

"To intrude in culture is to infiltrate and influence the daily scenes or situations within a certain time and place. We hope to narrow the gap between culture and everyday life, making art more accessible to a broader public."

In order to narrow the gap, the art group Utopia merges public and private space and created the ninth and ongoing event of the project on January 9-"Family Art Museum." It will take place every month in 12 private homes.

The group found ordinary citizens who were interested in art and willing to open their homes for one day. Then Utopia turned it into an art museum to display art works from Utopia.

The group uses all existing facilities and spaces like television, computers, balconies, kitchens and bathrooms to accommodate the art.

While Utopia takes art to the public, others like American artist and art writer Mathieu Borysevicz try to turn the public into art.

Borysevicz's project began on January 17. He takes photos of the workers in a construction site in Shanghai every day and will use the photos to decorate the wall of the construction site, usually covered with advertisements.

Moreover, Borysevicz will also lend digital cameras to some workers so they can record their work and life. The workers' photos will be compiled into a journal.

And to Chinese artist Wu Junyong, the Internet is a faster and more convenient way to reach the public.

For his project "Dictionary of Slams," Wu collects frequently used slams online and selects the most interesting to interpret visually.

At the end of the year, Wu plans to compile a dictionary to upload online.

In February, artistic intruders include Australian artist Annabelle Collett who will hang a dress she made on every tree of a selected street. Chinese artist Ye Nan will release 500 pigeons on a selected plaza. All the birds will be connected to each other by threads to create a large image through their movements. All these art events will be methodically archived and will be presented later as international touring exhibitions. Catalogues will be published regularly on the projects and their issues.

Intrude: Art and Life 366:
Date: through December 31
Tel: 8621-5033-9801

(Shanghai Daily January 30, 2008)

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