Rising up from the soulless Pizza Hut, Starbucks, and McDonald’s doldrums of “Thumb Plaza” in Pudong is the Shanghai Zendai Museum of Modern Art‘s international new media exhibition, ElectroScape. Only in operation for six weeks, it has created one of the first avant-art footprints in Shanghai with its premier. Don’t know about you, but creating a discourse between the digital and organic usually makes Shanghaiist’s stomach go to tizzies. While this exhibition falls well short of inducing a state of tizziness, it is well worth checking out if you enjoy such exercises in mental masturbation. And if you want to support the Shanghai art scene, it’s the place to be before August 25.
ElectroScape attempts to create and connect the dots between two traditionally disparate concepts, “Electronic” and “Landscape”, through a variety of interactive mixed media from artists the globe over. Tradition is such the boring uncle-in-law at your sister’s wedding. The Zendai MOMA would like to take him out back and flog him with a wet noodle. Instead, they whip him with a feather and let him escape to hit on the bride. Guest Curator Wonil Rhee’s fully functional vision presents the idea of the digital as playful organic binaries. Unfortunately, the digital is hardly alive and kicking at ElectroScape. Perhaps most of our criticisms are due to the museum being open for only a short time. But if you’re going to run such an large space, you really need to have all kinks worked out before you put on such an ambitious exhibition. If there weren’t several of the pieces broken and between 10-15 pieces missing from the original show, we would probably think better of ElectroScape. Other problems were lighting, location (Shanghaiist was the only visitor — and our taxi driver could barely find the place), and the two cleaning women hiding in a nasty and pitch-black corner as they took their break. That was creepy as hell.
Hopeful aspects of the museum and exhibition numbered in the many. First, the space is magnificent. So, immediately the potential is very high. Specific pieces we enjoyed: Jin Jiangbo’s That’s Him, Achituv & Utterback’s ancient piece from 1999, Text Rain, and Jean-Jacques Duclaux’s Circus. Save for the lighting in certain instances, most of the paintings are spectacular. Also, the staff is friendly and energetic — and you need smiling and enthusiastic people if you’re going to get anywhere. Moreover, the bookstore is not completely up-to-snuff, but it does have books we’ve only seen in London and Berlin before.
Regardless of the shortcomings, it’s always refreshing to witness technology waltzing with nature by way of mixed media. Though, this exhibition is for the thirsty art aficionado who seeks a digitally transformed ontological form. If you meet these criteria, explore the emerging chronotope at the Thumb’s MOMA for only 10 RMB (or a mere 5 RMB if you’re a student).
ElectroScape, the Shanghai Zendai Museum of Modern Art, Zendai Thumb Plaza, 199 Fangdian Lu (浦东芳甸路199号证大大拇指广场). RMB 5-10. Tel: 6864-5783 ext. 160.