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The 13th Shanghai Biennale Examines Interdependence at Time of Unprecedented Challenges

The 13th Shanghai Biennale Examines Interdependence at Time of Unprecedented Challenges

This year's Shanghai Biennale, themed Bodies of Water, examines the interconnectivity and interdependency of people, climates, ecosystems and technologies, exploring the idea of collectivity in the light of accelerating climate change and the current global pandemic. The 13th edition of the oldest biennial in China features works by 64 participating artists exploring the intricate web of interferences and connections in the contemporary world.

Zadie Xa and Benito Mayor Vallejo, Art Night London 2019. Courtesy the artists and Art Night 2019, photo by Matt Rowe© PSA© PSA© PSA+ 17

Concept Image of the Biennale theme. Image © Paula Vilaplana de Miguel
Concept Image of the Biennale theme. Image © Paula Vilaplana de Miguel

"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," says chief curator Andrés Jaque. The overarching theme of the Biennale encourages thinking beyond human-centred and nation-based narratives to a connection between the individual and the environment.

Zadie Xa and Benito Mayor Vallejo, Art Night London 2019. Courtesy the artists and Art Night 2019, photo by Matt Rowe
Zadie Xa and Benito Mayor Vallejo, Art Night London 2019. Courtesy the artists and Art Night 2019, photo by Matt Rowe

Curated by the New York-based architect and writer Andrés Jaque, director of the Advanced Architectural Design Program at Columbia University and founder of the Office for Political Innovation, together with a team comprising Marina Otero Verzier, Lucia Pietroiusti, Mi You and Filipa Ramos, the exhibition also invites artists to engage with the history and geography of Shanghai. The city itself illustrates the theme, as the Huangpu and the Yangtze Rivers connect the urban environment to the East China Sea and the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau's meltwaters.


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Liam Young, The Zero Waste Weavers of Planet City, 2021. Photo by Driely S
Liam Young, The Zero Waste Weavers of Planet City, 2021. Photo by Driely S

Among the works showcased during the Biennale is Liam Young's movie titled Planet City, featuring an imagined urban environment, which raises questions around issues such as density and climate change. The architectural speculation envisioned a self-reliant environment, where urban sprawl is reversed. Among the artists involved in the Shanghai Biennale are Cao Minghao and Chen Jianjun, who research river basins and water systems to explore the changes in ecology history. Their works include researching the disappearing countryside, the connection of migrant workers in the South, the new narratives of specific water systems and the public installations of water.

© PSA
© PSA

The 13th edition of the Biennale took on a new format, with the event unfolding over the course of nine months. Described by the curators as "an in crescendo project", the event began in November 2020. It featured a series of performative assemblies followed by a string of programs taking place across social media. This slow unfolding of the Biennale allowed artists and curators to develop the work in close connection to the city and its networks of people and organizations. The last phase of the event debuted on April 10th, with the leading exhibition taking place at the Power Station of Art and several other venues across the city. Housed within a former power plant, The Power Station of Art, once the Pavilion of Future during the 2010 Shanghai World Expo, is the first state-run museum dedicated to contemporary art in mainland China and the forefront of the city's new urban culture.

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© PSA

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Cite: Andreea Cutieru. "The 13th Shanghai Biennale Examines Interdependence at Time of Unprecedented Challenges" 21 Apr 2021. ArchDaily. Accessed . <https://www.archdaily.com/960402/the-13th-shanghai-biennale-examines-interdependence-at-time-of-unprecedented-challenges> ISSN 0719-8884
Liam Young, The Zero Waste Weavers of Planet City, 2021. Photo by Driely S

第13届上海双年展主题:“水体”

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