A bi­en­nial aims to pro­mote in­ter­na­tional and con­tem­po­rary art among res­i­dents of North­west China. Lin Qi re­ports from Yinchuan.

China Daily (USA) - - LIFE | CULTURE - Con­tact the writer at linqi@chi­

Xie Suchen says she of­ten awoke with anx­i­ety dur­ing the eight months of plan­ning the Yinchuan Bi­en­nale.

The Mu­seum of Con­tem­po­rary Art Yinchuan’s artis­tic di­rec­tor led a young and in­ex­pe­ri­enced team for the mu­seum’s first bi­en­nial — an event for­which­mostestab­lish­ments spend two years pre­par­ing.

The MOCA Yinchuan opened a year ago in a com­mer­cial com­pound along the Yel­low River, about one hour’s drive from the down­town of the Ningxia Hui au­ton­o­mous re­gion’s cap­i­tal.

“Peo­ple in­North­west­China have the same priv­i­leges to en­joy art as peo­ple in Bei­jing, Shang­hai and Guangzhou,” says Xie, who’s from Tai­wan.

“They’re as cu­ri­ous and pas­sion­ate about art.”

She in­vited Mum­bai-based artist Bose Kr­ish­na­machari to cu­rate the event. He founded In­dia’s first bi­en­nial, the Kochi-Muziris Bi­en­nale, in 2012, that ad­vanced con­tem­po­rary art in Kochi city.

Xie hopes his ex­pe­ri­ences can be trans­planted in Yinchuan, a crit­i­cal node of the an­cient Silk Road.

The in­au­gu­ral event, For an Im­age, Faster than Light, that runs from Sept 9 through Dec 18, fea­tures a star lineup of 73 artists from 33 coun­tries, in­clud­ing Yoko Ono, Anish Kapoor and Song Dong.

Works in­side and out­side the mu­seum ad­dress widerang­ing po­lit­i­cal, eco­nomic and cul­tural is­sues and ways to im­prove the world through bet­ter think­ing, Kr­ish­na­machari says.

Bei­jing-based lithog­ra­pher Yang Hong­wei vis­ited Yinchuan for the first time to at­tend the bi­en­nial’s open­ing. His Cen­tury Al­tar se­ries is on show.

“The city has more than 1,000 years of his­to­ryand­deep cul­tural tra­di­tions,” he says. “I’ve­come­here to present con­tem­po­rary art. I hope to ac­ti­vate the mod­ern parts of Yinchuan’s cul­tur­alDNA.”

It isn’t a place for artists to gain fame and for­tune like they can in such art hubs as Lon­don and New York. In­stead, they take nour­ish­ment and en­ergy.

Bri­tish artist Abigail Reynolds says dis­play­ing her works is only part of her visit to the city.

She won Art Basel Hong Kong’s third art-jour­ney award six months ago for her 10 am-5 pm,Mon­days closed, through Dec 18. MOCA Yinchuan, 12 Hele Road, Xingqing dis­trict, Yinchuan, Ningxia Hui au­ton­o­mous re­gion. 09518426111. The Ru­ins Li­braries of se­ries.

She will start from Yinchuan and travel to the sites of li­braries de­stroyed by con­flict and nat­u­ral dis­as­ters across China, Iran, Turkey, Egypt and Italy.

“This is an old and newc­ity with a very strong re­la­tion­ship with the Silk Road, both in the an­cient form and con­tem­po­rary man­i­fes­ta­tion,” she says.

“The ear­li­est-dated printed book was found (in Mo­gao of Time: the Silk Lost Road Cave in neigh­bor­ing Gansu prov­ince’s Dun­huang city). So it is quite fit­ting to start my jour­ney here.”

Xie says the bi­en­nial is an ini­tial step to­ward boost­ing the lo­cal art scene.

“We’ll achieve our goal slowly, be­cause we have to,” she says.

Or­ga­niz­ers brought pro­fes­sional work­ers from the na­tional cap­i­tal and bought tools on­line to trim ex­penses, she says. “It’s painful,” Xie says. “We only hope we don’t let the au­di­ence down.”

The event not only con­tin­ues the MOCA Yinchuan’s ef­forts to ed­u­cate lo­cals about con­tem­po­rary art but also shows art can be close to ev­ery­day life. Many works are made with such lo­cal items as clay and rice stems.

The MOCA Yinchuan has staged sev­eral con­tem­po­raryshows along with per­ma­nent dis­plays of its col­lec­tion of an­tique maps and oil paint­ings.

Xie says the mu­seum re­ceives 200 to 300 vis­i­tors on week­ends, and less than 10 per­cent of them are tourists.

“Many are fam­i­lies of three gen­er­a­tions, and I of­ten se­cretly fol­low them. Iknowit sounds odd, but I en­joy it.”

She of­ten over­hears vis­i­tors say they can’t un­der­stand the works. “That’s OK,” she says. “It’s great that peo­ple have ques­tions about, or marvel at, the works. I feel that even peo­ple’s mis­un­der­stand­ings of a work can make it more beau­ti­ful.” Kr­ish­na­machari agrees. “I think ev­ery­body in Yinchuan should visit the show, and they don’t nec­es­sar­ily un­der­stand any­thing and ev­ery­thing at the first sight.”

He never imag­ined the Kochi-Muziris Bi­en­nale would be­come glob­ally sig­nif­i­cant, he ex­plains.

“It’s achieved only through the lo­cal peo­ple — they need to un­der­stand the depth and power of it and then share it with oth­ers,” he says.

“Once in Kochi, a fam­ily came to the bi­en­nale and was asked by a jour­nal­ist about their feel­ings. The mother was quoted as say­ing: ‘This is com­pletely crazy. We’re com­ing the third time.’ This is what I think is im­por­tant (of a bi­en­nale) — that peo­ple keep com­ing back.”

10 am-5 pm, Mon­days closed, through Dec 18. MOCA Yinchuan, 12 Hele Road, Xingqing dis­trict, Yinchuan, Ningxia Hui au­ton­o­mous re­gion. 0951-842-6111.


Vis­i­tors get up close and per­sonal with con­tem­po­rary art at the Yinchuan Bi­en­nale, a ma­jor art event in north­west­ern China.

Xie Suchen (right), artis­tic di­rec­tor of the Mu­seum of Con­tem­po­rary Art Yinchuan.

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