Chengdu capable of hosting int'l art events, says executive of Centre Pompidou's China exhibition


Photo provided by the organizers

Dec. 13 (NBD) – The Centre Pompidou's first local curating practice in China has attracted enthusiastic visitors including students, white-collar workers and art professionals since its opening on November 2 in Chengdu of Sichuan Province.

The exhibition-going population size of Chengdu is comparable to that of Shanghai, said Ning Cheng, executive of the Cosmopolis #1.5: Enlarged Intelligence program, which is co-hosted by the Centre Pompidou, Mao Jihong Arts Foundation and Chengdu Media Group.

Ning was impressed by the active and art-savvy viewers, especially college students in media and art & design, and professionals from Chengu's academic, cultural, architectural and designing communities.

"Many visitors quietly watch the visual artworks from beginning to end, and pay attention to introductory texts. I'm also impressed by parents who took their children here to appreciate these works," Ning said to NBD.

The Cosmopolis platform was launched by the Centre Pompidou in 2016 to highlight research-based creative practices rooted in a particular context but also engaging in international conversation. The Chengdu project is the platform's first overseas exhibition. 

Ning said the organizers first planned to launch the event in Shanghai, an international city with a mature contemporary arts audience, but considering the curatorial theme, which is to explore how high-tech transformation impacts human life, ecology and the diversity of urban and rural development, they opted to hold it in the southwestern city with rich cultural and natural resources.

Ning Cheng/Photo provided by Ning Cheng

Chengdu is a culturally vibrant city with both rich history and open-mindedness, observed Ning. She and her colleagues believe the city is capable of hosting such an international event.

Many of China's first-generation contemporary artists, like Zhang Xiaogang and Wang Jianwei, as well as many musicians and poets, came from Chengdu and rose to international fame. The city has its own spiritual essence, which helps it retain quality culture and art programs, Ning added.

Participating artists drew inspirations from the city and then infused them into their artistic creation.

After visiting Jinsha Site Museum and getting to know the history of Chengdu, Singaporean artist Ming Wong compared the unique features of the city to the rich layers of flavors in Sichuan cuisine. 

Ming Wong created in Chengdu his participating work "Bamboo Spaceship", which integrated elements including science fiction, rap, traditional Sichuan opera and bamboo culture.

Making artworks locally in Chengdu and other locations in Sihcuan has been a distinctive feature of the exhibition. Artists Alfredo and Isabel Aquilizan invited Chengdu families, students and citizens to make their "dream houses" with recycled cardboard, which were later assembled into a magnificent interactive installation artwork.

Only by visiting in person can artists start conversations with a particular location, Ning commented. During the process artists could come up with new ideas and receive feedbacks from other artists, and probably they would take some works to Paris for the next Cosmoplis exhibition next year, added Ning.