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Work censored as art world descends on Shanghai

As Shanghai Biennale, two art fairs and scores of exhibitions open, Sun Xun's video work shut down

by Lisa Movius  |  8 November 2016
Work censored as art world descends on Shanghai
Galerie Perrotin's booth at the West Bund Art & Design Fair, which opens to the public on 9 October (Image: Lawrence Lu)
The unprecedented convergence of the 11th Shanghai Biennale opening and two major art fairs as well as numerous exhibitions makes the Chinese city the focal point of the Asian art world this week. The West Bund Art & Design Fair, opens tomorrow (November 9), followed by Art 021 on Thursday and the biennial on Friday (until 12 March), accompanied by scores of gallery and museum events. The flurry of events is widely described as a mainland, autumn version of the March art week in Hong Kong surrounding Art Basel there.

Sun Xun's woodcut animation Some Actions Which Haven’t Been Defined Yet In The Revolution (2011) was removed from an exhibition at the Minsheng Art Museum Shanghai
Sun Xun's woodcut animation Some Actions Which Haven’t Been Defined Yet In The Revolution (2011) was removed from an exhibition at the Minsheng Art Museum Shanghai
But the week kicked off on a sour political note after the Shanghai Cultural Bureau censored a film by Sun Xun from Everyday Legend, a group show looking at Chinese traditions in contemporary art that opened last night at the private Minsheng Art Museum Shanghai. A sign saying: “The work is unable to be shown as part of the exhibition due to non-technical reasons”, accompanied the empty screen that was intended to show Sun’s 2011 woodcut animation Some Actions Which Haven’t Been Defined Yet In The Revolution. A museum spokeswoman says no reason was given for the censorship.

Meanwhile, official attempts to turn the Xuhui Riverside known as the West Bund into a busy art district is slowly gathering steam, with the French-owned, Hong Kong-based Edouard Malingue Gallery opening its first mainland location in a new construction at 2879 Longteng Da Dao on Sunday. The gallery was offered the 270 sq m space two months ago by West Bund officials. Designed by Beau Architects, the space opened with Festival, a solo show by the Chongqing-based artist Cui Xinming (until 31 December). Downstairs, the new location of MadeIn Gallery, opened in September, has been transformed temporarily into the Xu Zhen Store, as the artist-turned-company-turned-brand-turned-supermarket now enters luxury fashion retail, selling his designs of silk pajamas, sunglasses and sofas.

Edouard Malingue is also one of the 11 new galleries joining the third West Bund Art & Design Fair; other new additions include Gladstone Gallery, Galerie Perrotin, David Zwirner, Timothy Taylor, Long March Space and Canton Gallery. A total of 31 galleries from 11 countries and territories are participating, with return dealers including Pace, Hauser & Wirth, Ink Studio and Bank. This year, the West Bund fair debuts Xian Chang, a public art section both within the exhibition hall and along the riverside, curated by ArtReview Asia. Qiu Anxiong’s new City of Amnesia revisits his 2007 railway carriage video installation, and Zhang Peili’s 2006 video classic Short Phrase is also screening. Artists including Jin Shan, Zhang Ruyi, Bi Rongrong and Qiu Xiaofei are also participating.

Entering year four and facing off with West Bund for the first time, Art 021 opens Thursday (until 13 November), with its much larger footprint of 84 galleries from 18 countries and territories, and an exhibition space of over 10,000 sq. m of the Shanghai Exhibition Center. Its 15 newcomers include David Zwirner, Hauser & Wirth, and Kukje/Tina Kim Gallery. Representatives of both fairs expressed confidence that the extra energy from overlapping events will balance out the competition for collectors.

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