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10th Shanghai Biennale: China's longest running contemporary art biennial opens
Liu Ding.

SHANGHAI.- The 10th edition of Shanghai Biennale, China's longest running contemporary art biennial, opened on 23 November. Taking place at Power Station of Art, China's first state-run contemporary art museum, the event incorporates works by over 70 artists.

Chief curator Anselm Franke, Head of Visual Art and Film at the Haus der Kulturen der Welt in Berlin, has devised a programme drawing on both contemporary and historical works, as well as music and cinema, under the theme 'Social Factory'.

Franke commented: ‘Few cities in the world represent the image of a society-in-the-making as dynamically as Shanghai. This city characterises China’s rapid modernisation and ascent to world power. And yet, Shanghai also embodies materially and as image, a promise for the post-industrial future – the China that will no longer be the “world factory”, but rather a “social factory”

Fostering relations between artists working in China and their international counterparts, the 10th Shanghai Biennale: Social Factory exhibition explores notions of subjectivity and creative process in an age of technological mediation. Highlight works include Ming Wong’s long-term project that focuses on Sci-Fi in Chinese modernity, Hou Chun-Ming’s work exploring the role of fathers in Asia, and Carlos Amorales’s mixed media installation that is both a sculpture and also a collective musical instrument.

The exhibition presents the variety of ways international artists have reflected on the construction of societies from Edgar Arceneaux’s large project on Detroit as post-industrial city to Natascha Sadr Haghighian’s humorous reflections on the construction of artists’ identity. New insight is being offered into the work of artists such as Chen Chieh-jen, one of Taiwan’s most influential artists.

Key themes for the exhibition include the ancient Chinese principle “seek truth from facts”, which was famously invoked by Mao Zedong in 1938 and which later became a guiding principle within the radical social and political transformations that China underwent in the 20th century. Visitors to the power station of art will be greeted in the lobby by specially commissioned robotic piano installation by Peter Ablinger that plays a complex tune to form the words ‘Seek truth from facts’.

The Chinese woodcut movement – which began in Shanghai in the 1920s – is another important reference for this Biennale. There is a focus on the recently deceased artist Zhao Yannian, whose powerful rendering of The Story of Ah Q was produced as a response to the political and social upheavals in China in the 1960s and 70s.

The 10th Shanghai Biennalel includes works by: Yan Jun, Liu Ding, Zhao Liang, Zhou Tao, Keywords Lab, Trevor Yeung, Firenze Lai, Gao Shiqiang, Li Xiaofei, Zheng Guogu, He Xiangyu, Huang Ran, Hu Liu, Zhao Yannian, Sun Xun, Liu Chuang, Yun-Fei Ji, Ten Miles Inn/ David Crook & Isabel Crook, The Imagine Park/ Yuan Wenshan, Wang Ziyue, Li Xiuqin, Huang Wenhai, Wang Bing, Huang Ming-chuan, Chen Chieh-jen, Yin-Ju Chen, Musquiqui Chihying, Hou Chun-ming, Yu Cheng-Ta, Neïl Beloufa, Narimane Mari, Peter Ablinger, Peter Friedl, Martin Beck, Nadia Myre, Susan Schüppli, Adrian Melis, Aleksandra Domanović, Harun Farocki, K.P. Brehmer, Nicholas Bussmann, Jutta Koether, Loretta Fahrenholz, Tibor Hajas, Shambhavi Kaul, Ashish Avikunthak, CAMP (Shaina Anand & Ashok Sukumaran), Natascha Sadr Haghighian/ Uwe Schwarzer/ Robbie Williams, Péter Dobai, Armin Linke, Ko Sakai & Ryusuke Hamaguchi, Lawrence Abu Hamdan, Carlos Amorales, Willem de Rooij, Mona Vatamanu & Florin Tudor, Anton Vidokle, Ming Wong, Erik Steinbrecher, Tang Chang, Stephen Willats, Art & Language, Adam Broomberg & Oliver Chanarin, Suzanne Treister, Edgar Arceneaux, Jen Liu, Louise Lawler, Joseph Cornell, Ken Jacobs, Sharon Lockhart, Daria Martin, Adam Avikainen, Lucien Castaing-Taylor & Véréna Paravel, J.P. Sniadecki & Libbie Dina Cohn, Ho Tzu Nyen, Tyler Coburn.

The curatorial team for the 2014 edition is led by Anselm Frank (Chief Curator) with Freya Chou, Cosmin Costinas, Liu Xiao (Co-curators); Hila Peleg (Curator for the Film program); Nicholas Bussmann (Curator for the Music Program) and Zhu Ye (City Pavilion: Urban Work & Shop Curator).

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