Thursday, September 16, 2010

I assumed that ShContemporary 10 would provide insightful lectures
from influential figures involved in the art world, particularly that
of South East Asia. Upon arriving at the Shanghai Exhibition Center,
we were quickly ushered into the conference room where Tan Boon Hui,
the director of the Singapore Art Museum, was speaking on what kinds
of pieces the Singapore Art Museum strives to collect. While this
topic had great potential, its main points were lost in translation.
Between the broken and rather poor translations, it was difficult to
grasp Mr. Tan's presentations. I did appreciate his comment regarding
the museum's focus on collecting works that illustrate a cultural or
artistic transition. It is obviously through transition works that
changes are most easily seen. I believe that the best way to
appreciate a certain period or artist is to see the artwork created
directly before and after the particular work, in order to draw
attention to distinct characteristics that define the work. Beyond
this point, I got very little out of the other speakers, also due to
the poor translations. I did appreciate the exhibition curated under
the idea of "Re-Value." Especially striking were two large characters
designed by an artist. Comprised of preexisting characters and
radicals, the new characters spoke of nouveau riche that is becoming
increasingly common in modern China. The most visually striking piece
gave new value to the common party balloon. This idea of assigning new
identities to the common and mundane parallels to the new values and
cultural change that China is currently embracing. As students in
Shanghai we are directly experiencing China's "Re-Value."

Meredith Rankin

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