Streetwear retailer Source opened its doors two weeks ago. To announce their arrival on the Shanghai scene, they threw a grand fete, replete with red carpets and media crews. Shanghaiist was there to ogle the models sashaying and skateboarding down the runway, to ooh-and-ahh at the impressive retail space—it’s one of them fancypants “concept stores”—and to nod eagerly each time someone offered us yet another beverage.
They’ve got some labels that our inner fashion whore is pretty excited about—think 2K by Gingham and Pharmacy Industry. But what really turned our crank was the adjoining gallery space. We haven’t seen much urban art around so the wicked skate deck exhibit they had up saw the every-moment-is-a-Kodak-moment-er in us going click!click!click! Was this to be a one-night thing (we swore those off a while ago…)? Was there to be more street art on which we could feast? Shanghaiist decided to do a little digging…
According to its website, the Kong Gallery at Source will “devote itself to youth culture and creativity”. It plans to showcase local up-and-comers as well as established creative collectives from the world over. Mama likes.
It’s in very capable hands—Rodney Evans and Nick Barham are manning the ship. You may know Evans from his escapades behind the lens (check these out[email protected]$%) and Barham as “that cool author”. They have a two-pronged mission: to provide a forum for urban art in Shanghai, and to educate folks on why it is so rad by providing some context and tying it in to broader artistic and societal discourse.
“While we see things pop up here and there, in one-off shows or whatever, there’s not really any structure to the urban art scene in China. People don’t really understand why street culture is ‘cool’, why it has a following. There’s a lack of understanding as to why people would pay this much for certain brands when they can go down to the fake market and get something similar for a fraction of the price,” Evans told us. “Aside from the authenticity thing, we want to show how fashion and art are completely linked, especially in skate culture—look at Volcom and their string of featured artists.”
“Kong”, which means ‘empty, void’ or ‘free time’, is also the name of the inaugural exhibit. Over the course of the namesake showcase, six artists from Shanghai and Beijing will leave their mark. The gallery’s second exhibit, opening in February, sounds really neat too. We’ll tell you more when the time comes but here’s a hint: think fashion and libido. Rawr.
“By having a gallery next to the retail space, we think we can further emphasize the relationship between art and fashion,” explains Evans. “We want to educate this market about the urban art and street culture. We want to give some perspective, some relevance, and some context to these brands.”
Kong tells us that they’re constantly scoping for talent and encourages artists to get in touch. We have a request: bring our favourite Canadian artmaker over…
Kong on until January 25, 2007. The Source & Kong Gallery Space. 158 Xinle Lu. Tel: 5103 5022.