Wandering through ‘Urban Narratives’


An exhibition titled “A Turning Moment: Urban Narratives in Chinese Contemporary Art, 1995-2019” is under way at the Shanghai Duolun Museum of Modern Art, focusing on the Chinese artists’ progressive journey through the city streets, walking and wandering.

Contemporary artworks ranging from painting, photography, video, sculpture to installation from 17 artists are on display, both inside and outside the museum on Duolun Road through December 15.

Curated by Azure Wu, the exhibition features the intersection of public space and contemporary art practice, responding to Chinese contemporary art practice themed on urban streets since mid-1990s.

Showing the artists’ critical thinking on social environment, urban space and people, their works present individual and collective memories and experiences, and bring changes to people’s everyday life.

For example, Yin Xiuzhen’s “Washing the River,” a group photo on the wall, records her project in 1995 in Chengdu. In allusion to Funan River’s serious pollution in Chengdu, Sichuan Province.

Yin used modern industrial means to extract 10 cubic meters of water from the river and then froze it into ice. She then brought the ice to the riverside and washed it with clean water.

The work attracted many passers-by at that time. The activity lasted two days, and received a warm social response from the public. During the process, the artist’s individual experience was turned into collective consciousness.

Another highlight of the exhibition is a special project called “Archives of Dial 6261232, a Portable Exhibition.” It is the first time the project has been presented in a domestic museum. First initiated by BizArt, it was a special take-out exhibition in September 2004, in which 42 artists and 15 delivery men took part.

Although 15 years has passed, visitors can still review the inspiring art project through archives of that year, and be awed by the artists’ unique vision and foresight in times of great change that redefined the relationship among art, public and the city.

The project this time includes the telephone number of a local courier company. People just have to dial the number to receive an exhibition, with each piece of the artists’ works presented by a courier one after another on their doorsteps.

During the time of the exhibition, 15 couriers will be hired to have this “courier exhibition” delivered in a suitcase anywhere within Shanghai, and the participating artists are asked to make 15 copies of the same work, so each courier can have one delivered at the same time.

Exhibition info

Date: Through December 15 (closed on Mondays), 10am-6pm

Venue: Shanghai Duolun Museum of Modern Art

Address: 27 Duolun Rd