The upcoming 9th Shanghai Biennale is one of the most anticipated because of its spectacular art venue, a former power station covering 41,000 square meters, with a chimney towering 165 meters. Wang Jie reports.
Shanghai’s new contemporary art museum, the Power Station of Art, opens on October 1 with the 9th Shanghai Biennale art festival appropriately titled “Reactivation.” It runs through March 31, 2013.
The Power Station of Art is China’s first government-aided contemporary art museum, housed in the former Urban Future Pavilion from the 2010 Shanghai World Expo. The pavilion itself was the renovated Nanshi power station, built in 1897 and symbolizing the city’s industrial might at the time. Since it burned high-sulfur coal, it was a major polluter and was gradually converted to gas starting in 1997; it was decommissioned in 2007. It was at the heart of an area containing the city’s first steel company, water company and other industrial giants.
But the old plant has turned “green” and artistic, today emblem of creative sustainable development.
The new museum replaces the old Shanghai Art Museum as the biennale’s venue near People’s Park. Many art lovers are nostalgic for the old colonial-era horse racing club and its historic ambience.
“But the space is too limited for an international biennale,” says Zhang Qin, the former curator of the Shanghai Biennale, “We had to squeeze in some pieces at the last minute and even the outdoor space was not enough.”
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