Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Where Is Everybody?


After having visited 798 Art District in Beijing a month ago, I was excited to travel to Moganshan 50 to see what I perceived to be a hotbed for cutting edge contemporary Shanghainese art.  What struck me most about M50 were two things: firstly, that some of the galleries here were some of the best I'd seen in Shanghai, particularly the Biz Art gallery, which was featuring a show around the theme of insomnia.  The flow of the space was quite unorthodox: the gallery space was broken up by diagonal walls that forces the viewer through the space in a disorienting zig zag pattern.  It was a dynamic way to view the art, and seemed to suggest the dizzying effects of insomnia.  

What was somewhat jarring, however, about M50 was the relative desolation of the district.  To be fair, we were there on a Thursday afternoon (not exactly prime time for art districts), but aside from our group and the occasional tourist, we really did not see any other people who were not working there.  

This was a disturbing observation for me.  If M50 is a vital center for the Shanghai art scene, where are the patrons?  It points, somewhat, to the question of who is really driving the art scene in Shanghai.  While shows like the Biennale have been extremely well attended, where is the enthusiasm for the more grassroots galleries featured at M50?  

What is so tragic about this is M50 really provides some great work in some dynamic gallery space.  Where shows like the Biennale feel contrived and pasted together sloppily, there seems to be a much more intimate and genuine feel to this area.  Ding Yi's gallery space at M50 was, to me, the most promising group of works I had seen in Shanghai, pieces that I feel surpassed almost all the works of the Biennale in quality.  More people need to discover it.

1 comment:

Tor Hershman said...

Very nice art works.

Stay on groovin' safari,
Tor