This is a story of a dream.

Imagine a world crowded with old master portraits, ancient Roman marble head, gold reliquaries filled with zombie’s hands and hearts, blooming carpets and colorful tapestry, baby dragons and unknown creatures’ skulls.

On October 10 at the Yuz Museum in Shanghai, that dream came true through an exhibition — titled “The Artist is Present,” after world- renowned Marina Abramovic’s celebrated solo show at the Museum of Modern Art, New York City, in 2010. Even the poster of this exhibition refers exactly to her MoMA exhibition.

The project, curated by Maurizio Cattelan and powered by Alessandro Michele’s Gucci, is perhaps one of the best exhibitions of the year.

Featuring a selection of more than 30 artists, foreign and Chinese, the exhibition shows both site-specific and existing works that question the most hallowed principle of art in the modern era: originality, intention and expression.

In an era where everything can be reproduced, nothing really retains an aura of originality, suggesting an urgency to overcome an old concept of counterfeit in favor of a new way to conceive copy as an indispensable tool to face a contemporary society.

The artists chosen for this exhibition include Xu Zhen, Yan Peiming and Maurizio Cattelan. Yes, the curator himself is also a participating artist.

Born in 1960, Cattelan is perhaps one of the most controversial and popular contemporary artists around the world. He is known for his satirical sculptures, particularly “La Nona Ora (1999)” (The Ninth Hour) depicting a wax sculpture of Pope John Paul II struck down by a meteorite. His unique personal art practice has gained him a reputation and all his works have a humorous twist.

For example, Cattelan brought a reduced copy of the Sistine Chapel in Room 6 of this exhibition. Meanwhile, a life-size replica of the Sistine Chapel is traveling around the Mexico.

Despite the fact that the Chapel is made from carbon-box paper outside, visitors might still be visually stunned at the mural paintings inside, which echoes the theme of this exhibition.

The show actually explores how originality can be reached through the act of repetition, and how originals themselves can be preserved through copies.

As Cattelan says, “Copying is like a blasphemy: it could seem not respectful towards God, but at the same time is the significative recognition of its existence.”


Date: Through December 16 (closed on Mondays), 10am-8pm

Tickets: 60 yuan

Venue: Yuz Museum

Address: 35 Fenggu Rd