For a while, it seemed the days of exhibitions being shut down in Shanghai were long gone. Since Shanghaiist moved to the city four years ago, we had not witnessed any major crackdowns, although there have been a few minor incidents here and there. The cultural scene in the city took a step back, however, on Saturday when a massive exhibition at the new Creative Garden on Longhua Lu was shut down by the authorities.
Solo Exhibition, curated by the Zendai Museum of Modern Art and organized by BizArt Art Center, featured 38 solo exhibitions of Chinese artists. It was to be a major gathering of some of the best young Chinese artists, bolstered by support from the Doland Museum and ShanghArt Gallery. The exhibition was late to start because everyone had to wait until authorities had finished approving all the pieces. There was relief when we were finally let in but while Shanghaiist was in the middle of walking through the incredible exhibition, the electricity was cut off, leaving people confused and fumbling in the near dark.
While people were milling around outside waiting to hear word, Shanghaiist caught up one of the organizers, who explained that the authorities had found “offensive” pieces that depicted some lewd and crude images and it was unlikely that the exhibition would continue that evening. Apparently, the authorities who were there earlier did not see these pieces because all the videos had not been turned on yet. Shanghaiist didn’t even get a chance to see the offensive images. Guards were stationed at the entrances of the second building (where most of the “offensive” material was) so we couldn’t sneak in to take a peak. A few people tried to take pictures in the dark but it was hard to tell what they were taking pictures of (if anyone was there and managed to take a few, post them!).
It is unlikely the exhibition would have encountered problems if it had been exhibited at Moganshan Lu or some other established venues but since Creative Garden is a brand new space in unfamiliar territory with uninformed authorities, the exhibition was probably doomed from the beginning. Shanghaiist is disappointed that we couldn’t see the rest of the exhibition and would be angry by how things turned out but as one of the organizers said, “This is still China afterall.” Updates as they come …
Visit biz-art.com for more information on the exhibition.
NOTE: This entry was edited on May 25th 2006.
Image of “Blind” by Liu Wei.