A cooperative venture between ifa gallery and island6, reveals the various lusts, desperation and searching within the city, explored by 23 artists in any possible static and interactive media.
On view in island6-ifa Gallery (Shanghai) from September 6th to October 7th 2008, "Urban Lust", an exhibition curated by Zane Mellupe and Marie Terrieux, coordinated by Alexis Kouzmine-Karavaieff; artistically directed by Thomas Charveriat; presenting the work of Yang Longhai 杨龙海, Wang Dongma 王东马, Rose Tang 罗丝唐, Chen Weide 陈伟德, Fang Fang 方昉, Zane Mellupe, Zou Susu 邹苏苏, Yan Wenjiang 阎文江, Nick Hersey, Zhang Kai 张开, Zhang Deli 张德丽, Wu Yandan 吴艳丹, Thomas Charveriat, Tom Lee
Pettersen, Klara Pokrzywko, Li Lingxi 李翎溪, Tian Hefa 田合法, Liu Jin 刘瑾, Jia Youguang 贾有光, Tang Huimin 唐慧敏, Liu Bolin 刘勃麟, Gao Brothers 高氏兄弟 (Gao Zhen & Gao Qiang).
The new exhibition, Urban Lust 欲望都市, a cooperative venture between ifa
gallery and island6, focuses on the role of desire as a
creative impetus and environmental factor in the collective conscious and
subconscious experience of the New China.
Shanghai is a city of profound ambiguity and many contradictions. Whereas most Chinese metropolitan
centers find their identity in Chinese national history, Shanghai is proud of
its colonial past. Its birth, growth, glory and shame all share a close
relationship with the West: the colonial powers in the past and the
transnational capitals in the present entail a cultural ambiguity
characterizing the local identity through cosmopolitanism. This phenomenon
accentuates Shanghai's ambivalent cultural belonging: if Shanghai's local
identity is fundamentally based on cosmopolitanism and transnationalism, then
it's the most sensually and culturally consumable place in post-reform China.
There is a sizable culture industry that devotes itself solely to the production of myriad images
and texts that showcase Shanghai's real and most often imaginatively retrieved
"colonial decadence". In its cultural representation Shanghai has become a
dreamscape, in the sense that it is no longer just a city, but a symbol for a
desirable lifestyle, a model for post-socialist affluence. Discourse about
Shanghai invariably resurrects its cosmopolitan reputation of the 1930s as a
powerful leitmotif in defining its emerging global identity.
Such intensive visual and textual production of Shanghai has in due course made it the most "seeable"
and "readable" city. With the manufacture of it as a dream-place or a dream
itself, has desire become the social fabric which dictates our daily
experience, personal and professional appetites and orientation in the
Twenty-three artists of culturally diverse origins have developed original
works around the theme of desire itself, and have sought to reexamine the
context and definition of the term itself in an applied manner which directly
bears on this city which they now call home. Eros, sexuality, and extremes of
indulgence are built upon broken and fragmented preconceptions drawn from the
social mores and predominant ideologies of the PRC and brought into stark
contrast with the near mythical decadence and notoriety of the metropolis of
Shanghai. Shanghai's urban transformation in the past decade has meant, on the
one hand, that the city is overwhelmed by commercialism and consumerism. On the
other hand, every global city is inevitably associated with cosmopolitanism. In
the end both determine the city's ambiguous cultural identification. To expand
upon a governing correlation with desire, or, more directly- lust, is a bold
curatorial experiment as it transgresses the rhetoric of the PRC and denotes a
trend most commonly associated with savage capitalism.
We observe images of youth pounding the pavements on skateboards; humorous dancing pastel figures sculpted in plastic, virtually
void of any realistic detail; illustrations in ink and watercolors of contorted
and reclining female nudes and cityscapes which denude an oppressive or
stagnant atmosphere rather than gaiety and liberty. The interpretations of each
artist varies widely and reflects the drama of individual youths and
consciences caught in the wake of mass consumption, consumerism, survival and
voyeurism which are so greatly a part of the experience of the metropolises of
Of particular interest, the series of Brilliant City,
by Zane Mellupe captures our attention. The city as a desolate and futuristic
site wherein individuality is lost in the gulf of anonymity, an Orwellian
undertone of despair and decline which boldly challenges the nonsensical
rhetoric of the myth of progress, of positive developments and comprehensive
planning of the future of both the youth and the urban settings of China.
If desire is the stage, who then are the actors? In the erasure of cultural identity and tradition, what is the true desire and
truths of desire for those who have sought and still seek to give expression to
the daily mundane and trivial tasks of existence in a society evermore
materialistic in an apparently spiritually vacuous urban horizon?
Globalization, rampant marketing and a new economic language
and reality are answered incoherently, void of unanimity yet sincere in their
independent strivings to address the machinations of desire. It's the savage
capitalism at work beneath the shelter of autocracy, the juxtaposition of
Occidental externalization of desires, acquisition, the sexual freedoms and
exhibitionism with that of Oriental extemporization, the restraint, reserve and
subtlety that create for a fascinating visual experience in this collective
exhibition. That which has remained hidden, marginal, peripheral or unwanted
has surfaced in a curatorial selection which makes one face one’s own
fallacies, illusions and question: in which way are we prey to our own desires
in an era where archetypes collide?
The opening night will also feature an urban/aboriginal acoustic set encompassing the entire gallery space by
musicians Manuel Bandelli, Tom Lee Pettersen, Manels Favre and Zheng