Jing’an sits at the heart of Shanghai. It represents the essence of the history and culture of the city, home to century-old buildings, big-name attractions, glitzy retail malls and charming art galleries. Annual music and art events give the district a distinctive ambience. In this series, we showcase the highlights of Jing’an.
April Keyword: Spring Outing
Spring is the perfect time to get out and about after the “cabin fever” of winter, and Jing’an is an ideal place to start. Shanghai Daily reporter Li Qian offers tips on where to go and what to see.
Surrealistic exhibition in century-old house
Historical Rong Villa, again, becomes a hot spot in town, with the opening of a new exhibition entitled “What Was I?” by Pole Goshka Macuga.
Set amid a décor of vintage furniture and elegant embellishments in the century-old house, the provocative exhibition presents a contrast to stir deep thoughts.
The exhibition’s title comes from the Mary Shelley classic novel “Frankenstein.” In the book, the monster created by a scientist in an unorthodox experiment asks: “Who was I?”
The exhibition is set against the backdrop of a future when humans are overrun by technologies.
Macuga’s 26 works explore the complexity of computer-like patterns and geometric shapes, and the effects of technological over-development.
The highlight of the exhibition is a robot created by Macuga in 2016. Wearing a plastic coat and a pair of slippers, it can recite a monologue comprised of excerpts from famous speeches in the history of mankind.
It claims to be “a repository of human speech,” though for whom this knowledge is preserved is “no longer clear.”
During the exhibition, the robot’s speech will coexist alongside a live performance by a calligrapher, twice a week. And at the end of the exhibition, the robot just says: “Who was I?”
Macuga, born in Warsaw and now living in London, works across a variety of media, including sculpture, installation, photography, architecture and design.
The exhibition, which is closed Mondays, will run through June 2. Admission is 60 yuan (US$8.9).
Doraemon’s secret garden
Doraemon, a popular robot cat in a Japanese animation series, has come to Joy City in Jing’an for a one-year stay.
The mall’s Doraemon amusement park is highlighted by a 10-meter-high inflatable Doraemon, who welcomes visitors in front of the mall’s iconic Sky Ring Ferris wheel. Atop the mall on the 8th floor, the wheel stands at a lofty 98 meters high, with Doraemon-themed designs and cabins in which to sit.
Also, Doraemon will carry its “secret tools” to meet visitors at the bus station, toy store, bakery and post office, and take out its bamboo-copter and the Anywhere Door for you to try.
Doraemon’s friends, Nobi, Shizuka Minamoto, Takeshi Goda and Suneo Honekawa, also show up to dance.
Admission is 60 yuan.
A temporary exhibition showing how human beings are inspired by nature to invent and develop society has become another hot spot in town.
“Mother Nature: Innovation Inspiration,” introduced by the National Science Museum of Thailand, will be held through June 30 on the B1 floor of the Shanghai Natural History Museum.
The natural world has evolved over 3.8 billion years, but human beings have existed only a few million years. People usually turn to nature to seek solutions, which is called “bionic thinking.” The exhibition prods visitors to re-examine nature from the angle of bionics and find new ways to communicate with it.
It features many interactive installations that link human invention and the natural world.
For example, the design of a one-blade ceiling fan, which received the Australian Design Award in 2005, was actually inspired by falling sycamore tree seed pods. And hook-and-loop fasteners, commonly used in our daily lives, were invented by Swiss engineer George de Mestral after he found how heads of burdock easily stuck in his clothes during a walk on a farm in 1941.
Trendy shopping and dining venues
Weary of exhibitions? JULU 758, a new rendezvous among local trendsetters, offers time-out pleasure.
The site on 758 Julu Road was renovated from a former factory workshop. The four-story building now hosts boutiques, designer stores, fancy restaurants and bars.
They include the first Chinese mainland store of the Sweden brand Freitag, which sells one-of-a-kind bags made from the canvas cover used for trucks.
Ramen Boy, opened by Chico from Hong Kong, is more than just a restaurant. It’s also a ramen museum and haven for ramen lovers. Chico traveled around the world to collect more than 100 types of ramen, and he famously ate ramen for 526 consecutive days.
Mirai Waki provides authentic kaiseki, a traditional multi-course Japanese dinner. But the cuisine here has a modern twist, with a holographic projection used to create a unique dining experience and robots serving drinks in the Dream Brewers bar.