Thursday, November 25, 2010

Shanghai Biennale 2010

by Grace Cori Huang
Shanghai Biennale 2010

       For the eighth Shanghai Biennale at the Shanghai Art Museum, curators
Fan Di'an, Li Lei, Hua Yi and Gao Shiming created a show with the
theme of "Rehearsal." From this title, I was looking forward to seeing
works centering around the art-making process rather than only the
finished piece that we usually see at shows, however the way the
pieces dealt with the idea of rehearsal were not just about practicing
or preparing for a final exposition. In "And All the Question Marks
Started to Sing" created by Verdensteatret, the piece was in a
perpetual state of rehearsal, with the mechanical pieces always
moving. Like at a rehearsal, everything was visible to the viewer: the
light sources, the electrical wiring, the set-up of the bicycles and
magnifying glasses, and that made it even more interesting than merely
looking at the resulting light and shadow projected on the walls. On
the first floor of the museum, there were still photographs of the
performance of Semele, directed by Chinese artist Zhang Huan. What was
interesting about this performance was the censorship it underwent as
the show travelled from Europe to China; according to news reports and
reviews, the show's meaning was significantly altered due to
censorship of sexual and political themes. As a result, when the show
opened in China with all the alterations, Zhang Huan did not really
know whether or not it would work, it was as though it was a
rehearsal. It is unfortunate, that it couldn't be shown the way it was
intended, though it gives the piece another interesting twist.


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