Opening up to the art of the new (2000-2005)
This column examines the contemporary art scene in Shanghai over the past three decades, giving an insight into its development via interviews with the country’s top artists, curators and collectors. Chinese contemporary art started much later than in the West, due to historical reasons and different cultural backgrounds. Although it has a fairly short history, China’s contemporary art is no less inferior in its intensity and the controversy it evoked from the public.
The column will be divided into 5-year periods looking at various aspects such as the background of China’s contemporary art, the M50 art hub, the beginning of biennales and international art fairs in Shanghai and the emergence of private museums on the West Bund.
From the underground to the present, the roadthat China’s contemporary art has covered not only reflects changes in art itself, but also in public taste and the acceptance of new ideas.
The series begins with the contemporary art scene in Shanghai from 1995 to 2000. This week we focus on the time from 2000 to 2005.
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This year’s biennale was the first edition to include new media, and opened to international artists and curators. Themed “Haishang · Shanghai” and aiming to improve Shanghai’s role in arts as the “gateway to the West,” the event attracted nearly 70 artists from 18 countries and regions. The Chinese characters of the title were a wordplay upon the name of the city ”Shang” and “Hai.” The curatorial team was headed by Hou Hanru, a noted Chinese curator who lives in the US.
“Urban Creation” was the theme in 2002. All the paintings, sculptures and other works on show reflected the vicissitudes between architecture and humans; new surroundings and old ones; village and city; and protection and development. Nearly 68 artists and architects, including Austrian Gunther Domenig and William E. Massie of the United States, presented about 300 works at the event.
Themed “Techniques of the Visible,” this year’s biennale examined the relationship between art, science and technology. The diverse art practices of contemporary artists from Asia, Europe, South America, North America and Africa were being exhibited through films, photography, video works, installations and performances. Major names in contemporary art taking part included Yoko Ono, Stan Douglas, Jeff Wall and Coco Fusco.
By 2005, the M50 art zone, formerly Chunming Textile warehouses at 50 Moganshan Road along Suzhou Creek, had become an art hub housing galleries and designers’ and artists’ studios. The struggling artists of M50’s early days have been replaced by high-end galleries as the 24,000-square-meter space established itself as Shanghai’s answer to Beijing’s 798 art zone.
“Hyper Design” in 2006 featured 100 artworks from 25 countries, including videos, installations, sculptures and paintings, with the aim of dazzling the eyes and provoking the imagination of visitors. Big names included Julian Ope and Matthew Barney.