I realized that I have not posted my reaction to M50, so here it is!
Moganshan 50 was very pleasant because it was definitely the other spectrum from the stiff institutionalized aura of the Shanghai Biennale. Walking through M50, I almost forgot I was in China—no overwhelming herds of people pushing you out of their way, no loud and dangerous cars and bicycles zooming by, etc. Instead M50 was this little town with little galleries and cafes—very serene and pretty. The only thing that I thought was pretty unfortunate and weird was that barely anyone was there. Where are the people? It was almost deserted, which is such a shame because it is such a cozy little area with great artists and great art works.
Personally Wenda Gu was the most enjoyable among Bizart, Wenda Gu, and Ding Yi. I think this is because since I have no background in art but instead have a background in business, I appreciate and understand best things when they have logical and analytical implications. I am in no way implying that Bizart and Ding Yi have no meaning. All I am saying is that I understood the concepts and intentions behind Wenda Gu’s the best.
I thought Wenda Gu’s incorporation of hair from all over the world was so unique. The “United Nations” hairpiece explored such valuable concepts that are increasingly becoming more significant in today’s society as all of the countries are becoming more and more interdependent, socially, politically, and economically. this collective interweaving relationship among all parts of the world creates an inevitable clashing of social norms, way of life, way of thinking—in other words, cultures. Using hairs from all parts of the globe explores such concepts of culture, ethnicity, unity of the world, nationalism, etc. Also, how did he think of grinding the hair up to make ink that he can use to paint his works? I thought that was absolutely brilliant. I also loved his fictional Chinese characters, because he was trying to say how original meanings between two languages get lost in translation. However, his idea was that this is not a bad thing because this newly derived meaning from this loss of translation creates a whole valuable meaning in itself. I thought that was a very intelligent way to think about it.
I also found the Bizart presentation about the Art for Sale “Supermarket” Exibition of 1999 to be unconventional—at least in the world of contemporary art that I have been exposed to so far. First, I think this exhibition was meaningful because if you think about it, it could be seen as a direct reaction to Shanghai’s identity as this commerce-driven city where shopping malls pop up everyday like new temples. This exhibition seemed to explore the nature of consumerism/consumption in dialogue with the art world. This created a very unconventional and unique dialogue between contemporary art and its public; the art scene met the public in their world, in their everyday consumer role instead of the other way around.
Overall, I loved the environment created my M50. It is unlike the Shanghai Biennale, which I felt lacked that authentic quality. I mean, just as Ding Yi said, the Shanghai Biennale’s art works were created for the purpose of the Biennale’s designated theme. He said a lot of them didn’t start working on their work until the theme was decided, which negatively restricts the artists’ creative aspect.
Again, I think M50 is such a promising place for the contemporary art scene in Shanghai. I wish it could be promoted more because it is such an enjoyable and real, authentic place for art.