Auto museum highlights relationship between machine and humanity

A collection of 23 photography, sculpture and installation works about vehicles are being exhibited at Shanghai Auto Museum until July 29.
Ti Gong / Ti Gong

Migrating, Zhu Xi's installation work.

A collection of 23 photography, sculpture and installation works about vehicles are being exhibited at Shanghai Auto Museum in Anting Town of suburban Jiading District.

Named “Moving Fantasy,” the exhibition showcases the work of seven artists from home and abroad, highlighting the relationship among automobiles, space and human beings.

“We divided the exhibition into three themes: instant, routine and hereafter,” Shen Danji, a cultural researcher of the museum, said. “They represent three different thinking perspectives towards machine and humanity.”

In the “instant” section is a set of photos named “Disintegrating II,” taken by Swiss photographer Fabian Oefner. By deconstructing scale-models and photographing each component piece by piece in very specific positions, Fabian created an illusion of a still sequence of exploding iconic cars.

Oefner explained his work as “inventing a moment in time."

“What looks like a car falling apart is in fact a moment in time that has been created artificially by blending over 2000 individual images together,” Oefner explained.

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Swiss artist Fabian Oefner.

Another work which features in the “hereafter” section is a Volkswagen minivan from the 1960s. Artist Zhu Xi placed an old TV playing old shows inside the car and thousands of bulbs on top of the luggage rack of the minivan. 

“I named it Migrating as the minivan itself was a strong symbol of people on the move back in the old days,” said Zhu. “And each bulb represents a person and his or her dream.”

The artworks, according to Shen, are a metaphor that aims to provoke the visitors’ reflections on the form and spirit in moving carriers and where human beings are being guided.

Gao Weicheng, a nearby resident who is a frequent visitor of the museum, took his 8-year-old son to see the exhibition. “He like cars so much that he can name some of those being exhibited,” said Gao. “These artworks are also a good way to show kids how to approach things from another angle.”

Opened in 2007, Shanghai Auto Museum is the first museum in China's mainland that focuses on exhibiting automobile technology and histories. According to deputy curator Liu Tao, the museum has collected more than 100 iconic cars from different times.

“As a museum, our goal is to educate the public and popularize auto culture,” Liu explained, adding that the museum has been working with schools and universities to set up short courses about cars every week.

While the first floor tells the history of automobiles, the second and third floors introduce how cars and technology change people's daily lives. Many children love the experience space on the third floor where they can actually try driving.

“Some of the courses provide the children with a direct sense of how cars came into being,” said Liu. “They can try driving simulation or build their own cars with Lego blocks.”

The exhibition runs through July 29 and will be the first phase of the museum’s effort to bring cross-border cultures together.

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Shanghai Auto Museum

Exhibition details

Date: Through July 29 (closed every Monday)
Tel: 021-69550043
Venue: Shanghai Auto Museum
Address: 7565 Boyuan Road

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