Thursday, November 25, 2010

SH Biennale review by Noor Chadha

The 8th Shanghai Biennale 2010

       The focus of the 2010 Shanghai Biennale is rehearsal, the
concept that the final product of an artistic process is not
necessarily the most important – that within every stage there is
substance and in some cases, the "rehearsal" stages may be even more
essential than the final artwork. Spanning over the three floors of
the Shanghai Art Museum, the exhibition consists of work ranging from
the more traditional painting, photography and video, to large-scale
installations and performances involving live music and spectator
In one of the exhibition spaces, there was no "artwork" as such, but
an actual studio of the Shanghai artist Ma Liang. Every piece of his
original studio has been moved into the museum for the duration of the
show. This radical move places the spotlight backstage – not even on
artistic process but on the actual work environment for that process
to then take place in. An artist's studio shares so much insight into
the artist's creative soul – it is where the artist can find the peace
of mind to create. Usually you would think that the origin of an
artwork can be traced back to the conception of the idea behind it,
but no, exhibiting Ma Liang's studio in it's whole at the Biennale
takes it one step further, before conception of any idea, suggesting
that perhaps the true identity of any artwork can be located at it's
Right next to Ma Liang's studio is a performance piece by the
Norwegian art group Verdestreatret called "And All the Question Marks
Started to Sing". Whereas Ma Liang's studio is a stagnant environment
– a setting for the process to occur in, Verdestreatret's piece is the
complete opposite: both an ongoing process and a final artwork –
essentially an artwork in ongoing rehearsal. The work consists of all
kinds of machinery – wires, bicycle wheels, computers, projectors and
heavy duty lighting, and artists interacting with the machinery in a
combination of ways: Musicians playing beats on the bicycle wheels,
artists manipulating the silhouettes of the whole piece on the wall.
The piece is constantly undergoing changes and the final product is
that process of evolution.
Other works in the Biennale that I felt successfully emphasized the
theme of rehearsal included French artist JR's "Wrinkles of the City"
and Qiu Zhijie's "Qiu's notes on Colorful Lantern at Shangyuan
Festival". Overall, I thought the 2010 Shanghai Biennale was
conceptually successful and has contributed some wonderful artworks to
the art world.

No comments: