Mod­ern show­case

In­ter­na­tional art ex­hi­bi­tion in Chengdu looks at ur­ban is­sues

China Daily (USA) - - FRONT PAGE - Lin Qi re­ports. Con­tact the writer at [email protected]­

Nige­rian Kunle Adeyemi says he doesn’t as­pire to cre­ate beau­ti­ful build­ings but in­stead fo­cuses on “tack­ling prob­lems, pro­vid­ing so­lu­tions and har­ness­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties”. This ethos is man­i­fested in the Makoko Float­ing School, a wooden, float­ing school and com­mu­nity cen­ter he built on a la­goon in La­gos in 2012. Adeyemi de­signed the struc­ture to pro­vide a pro­to­type for wa­ter­front com­mu­ni­ties world­wide that face rapid ur­ban­iza­tion, ris­ing sea lev­els and floods caused by cli­mate change.

He sourced lo­cal ma­te­ri­als and used en­demic tech­niques in his project to pro­vide sus­tain­able, af­ford­able hous­ing.

An up­dated ver­sion of the school, called MFS II, was dis­played and won sil­ver at the 15th In­ter­na­tional Ar­chi­tec­ture Ex­hi­bi­tion in Venice in 2016.

A third it­er­a­tion, MFS IIIx3, has been as­sem­bled on a lake in a sub­ur­ban wet­land park in Sichuan province’s cap­i­tal, Chengdu.

It in­cludes three pyra­mid pav­il­ions linked by a plaza. The struc­tures com­bine Nige­ria’s his­tor­i­cal ex­pe­ri­ences of build­ing float­ing dwellings with lo­cal bam­boo-weav­ing.

Adeyemi calls the MFS se­ries “an in­no­va­tive project about in­no­va­tion”.

“Even if it is a min­i­mally vi­able prod­uct, we take it to the next step,” he says.

The project imag­ines a fea­si­ble way for hu­mans to live on wa­ter — some­thing that may be­come more com­mon in the fu­ture. Adeyemi be­lieves in­no­va­tion also ap­plies to so­cial be­hav­iors and can be in­fused with in­ter­est in adapt­ing to cli­mate change.

MFS IIIx3 has be­come a hot spot for shut­ter­bugs, who are rush­ing to snap shots be­fore its pub­lic dis­play ends on Sun­day, the clos­ing date of the Cos­mopo­lis #1.5: En­larged In­tel­li­gence in Chengdu, fea­tur­ing pieces by artists from var­i­ous coun­tries whose works ad­dress so­cial, po­lit­i­cal and eco­nomic is­sues.

The event is pre­sented by the Cen­tre Pom­pi­dou as an in­ter­na­tional edi­tion of Com­spo­lis, an ex­hi­bi­tion and re­search plat­form that the Parisian in­sti­tu­tion launched in 2016 to open a cross-cul­tural di­a­logue among artists and au­di­ences. It’s spon­sored by the Shang­hai-based Mao Ji­hong Arts Foun­da­tion.

The event in­cludes ex­hi­bi­tions, per­for­mances and talks at var­i­ous venues across Chengdu, as well as in the his­tor­i­cal Ji­a­jiang county near the city.

The main ex­hi­bi­tion is staged at Eastern Sub­urb Mem­ory, a cre­ativein­dus­try plat­form housed in a for­mer elec­tron­ics fac­tory.

Over 60 works shown there dis- play collective wis­dom on ur­ban de­vel­op­ment.

“(They) in­spire thoughts on the fu­ture of tech­nol­ogy and its in­flu­ence on ur­ban life and ecol­ogy”, says Mao Ji­hong, a Chi­nese fash­ion de­signer, en­tre­pre­neur and mem­ber of the Parisian pa­tron­age as­so­ci­a­tion, Friends of the Cen­tre Pom­pi­dou.

Mao says Chengdu was selected as the host city be­cause it’s an art hub that demon­strates “tol­er­ance, moder­nity and po­ten­tial”.

The city is cel­e­brated for its vi­brant cul­tural legacy, and is home to artists, gal­leries and col­lec­tors.

Most artists fea­tured in the ex­hi­bi­tion are vis­it­ing Chengdu for the first time.

Mao be­lieves their pres­ence will pro­duce “chem­istry” with the city and res­i­dents.

Their works cre­ate new per­cep­tions for re­flect­ing upon so­cial de­vel­op­ment’s var­i­ous di­men­sions through ex­ten­sive in­de­pen­dent re­search, says cu­ra­tor Ning Zheng, who’s also the Mao Ji­hong Arts Foun­da­tion’s CEO.

Filipino cou­ple Al­fredo and Is­abel Aquil­izan, who now live in Aus­tralia, started a se­ries called Project

An­other Coun­try in 2006, which they say ex­plores the space, or men­e­merg­ing

tal state, that peo­ple feel be­tween their home coun­tries and cur­rent res­i­dences — that is, a sense of loose at­tach­ment.

They’re pre­sent­ing an in­stal­la­tion se­ries in Chengdu, en­ti­tled Here, There, Ev­ery­where.

A “minia­ture com­mu­nity” of hand­made build­ings fash­ioned from re­cy­cled cup­boards are densely ar­ranged atop what ap­pears to be a satel­lite dish.

It ref­er­ences mod­ern so­ci­eties’ no­madic char­ac­ter, as peo­ple of­ten mi­grate and form tem­po­rary com­mu­ni­ties in which a sense of be­long­ing is ever-more elu­sive.

Many works at Cos­mopo­lis #1.5 present glob­al­iza­tion within the con­text of Chengdu.

Chi­nese duo Cao Ming­hao and Chen Jiangjun have been work­ing on a project called Af­ter Re-An­no­tat­ing a River since 2015. It ex­am­ines the com­plex re­la­tion­ship be­tween hu­mankind and the ecosys­tem. One piece in the se­ries, Ur­ban

Stud­ies, is a me­ter-long scroll fea­tur­ing sev­eral draw­ings. It de­picts the orig­i­nal state of Chengdu’s an­cient Shui­jing­fang area. The work is based on the artists’ vis­its and for­mer res­i­dents’ mem­o­ries.

Ning says the works on show have spe­cific im­pli­ca­tions for lo­cal view­ers, who live in an ur­ban metropo­lis in a pop­u­lous province. They in­vite peo­ple to con­sider ways to make a city more co­he­sive and cre­ate shared mem­o­ries dis­tinc­tive to the place.

(They) in­spire thoughts on the fu­ture of tech­nol­ogy and its in­flu­ence on ur­ban life and ecol­ogy.” Mao Ji­hong, Chi­nese fash­ion de­signer


Clock­wise from top: The Cos­mopo­lis #1.5: En­larged In­tel­li­gence in Chengdu fea­tures Filipino artist cou­ple Al­fredo and Is­abel Aquil­izan’s in­stal­la­tion, Here, There, Ev­ery­where, a minia­ture com­mu­nity made of re­cy­cled cup­boards; To Re­main, a work by Colom­bian art group Arqui­tec­tura Ex­pandida; and MFS IIIx3, as­sem­bled by Nige­rian ar­chi­tect Kunle Adeyemi on the lake of a sub­ur­ban wet­land park in Chengdu, Sichuan province.

Nige­rian ar­chi­tect Kunle Adeyemi at MFS IIIx3.

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