Thursday, March 19, 2009
Shanghai's artistic explorations in the 1980s seem boundless and chaotic by today's standards. Professor Chuan's group, M, was formed during an era of predictability if not stagnation in the lives of Shanghainese-- a social order whose rapturous expressions in art are today tempered by the growth and uncertainty that now defines the place. During and before the 1980s the identity of the Shanghainese gave rise to a kind of freewheeling attitude that clashed directly with the city's static state and allowed for the formation of a distinct counterculture in opposition to a mundane reality.
During our current decade the city's identity has been directly called into question-- the landscape has been transmogrified and reconfigured, the culture has inflated and exploded into something unrecognizable and at the same time become insecure upon the realization that change has just begun. The question for Shanghai's future hinges on whether or not its citizenship will take the reins of the revolution or will wither away upon confronting it. The question of how to use the moment's momentous shift as a launching pad for an artistic euphoria rather than a guise for a tepid imitation of a westernized expression. Shanghai's art world must seize the moment in a violent fashion to recognize the opportunity for a profound originality that transcends the violence and yearning of its past.