2021-04-16 10:38:25

SHANGHAI — One of the most influential art events in Asia, the Shanghai Biennale, will begin welcoming visitors on Saturday at the city’s Power Station of Art museum.

The exhibition comprises 76 pieces or sets of artwork — ranging from oil paintings and photographs to videos and large installations — by 64 artists hailing from 18 countries including China. Some 33 pieces are new works commissioned specifically for this year’s event.

“The 13th Shanghai Biennale advocates for the momentous contribution that art plays in the reconstruction of a world shaped by environmental, social, and political distress,” Andrés Jaque, the exhibition’s chief curator, said in a press release. “The Biennale is sensitive to the way art constitutes and infiltrates life itself, and to its capacities for bodied reparation, transformation, and dissidence.”

Titled “Bodies of Water,” the exhibition will encourage visitors to examine the “living connectivity” between humans, ecosystems, climate, and technology. The idea for this theme came at a time when the world was gripped by both an accelerating climate crisis and a historically severe pandemic, according to the press release.

The Shanghai Biennale will also feature women artists reflecting on feminism through their work. In the main exhibition hall, a massive installation in vivid red titled “Quipu Menstrual,” by Chilean artist Cecilia Vicuña, plays on the “Bodies of Water” theme with feminine elements. Featuring red ropes of unspun wool dangling from the ceiling, the piece reflects the complexities of women’s bodies, according to the exhibit’s interpreter.

“Quipu Menstrual” by Chilean artist Cecilia Vicuña, exhibited at the 13th Shanghai Biennale.

“Quipu Menstrual” by Chilean artist Cecilia Vicuña, exhibited at the 13th Shanghai Biennale.

Apart from the Power Station of Art, the Shanghai Biennale will extend to a former publishing house for schoolbooks as well as the Sun Ke Villa — named after the son of Sun Yat-sen — in Columbia Circle, an area that was once a bucolic wetland.

In 1996, the exhibition became the first international art biennale on the Chinese mainland. Held every other year since, it is now regarded as one of the most important and influential art events in Asia.

More than a decade after the Shanghai Biennale’s inception, the Power Station of Art in 2012 became its permanent organizer and host venue.

Editor: David Paulk.

(Header image: A promotional poster for the 13th Shanghai Biennale. From @上海当代艺术博物馆PSA on Weibo)