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March 18, 2012

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A new look at home, sweet home

A conceptual art project by Michael Lin involves artists, construction workers, furniture makers, musicians, photographers and urban culture researchers.

The ongoing exhibition at Rockbund Art Museum titled "Model Home - A Proposition by Michael Lin" took months to construct. It involves three floors as well as the construction of a small "house" with a blue roof.

It's a crossover collaboration involving artist Lin and Japanese architecture collective Atelier Bow-Wow.

"I am exploring the different dynamics of collaboration and questioning the role of the artist as a singular voice," Lin says. "I wanted to recognize the combined effort that goes into producing a large-scale exhibition and at the same time try to bring about a collective voice."

Lin now lives and works in Taipei, Shanghai and Brussels. Using patterns and designs referring to the traditional Taiwanese textiles, his works have been exhibited in major institutions and international biennales around the world

This is also the seasonal exhibition of Rockbund after Zhang Huan's show.

The first thing visitors see upon entering the exhibition space is Lin's signature wall painting, which was inspired by the patterns on the quilt cover found in a shop in Shanghai. The artist is known for finding unique or culturally significant local fabric patterns and transplanting them into different contexts, thus transforming ordinary public space into culturally specific space.

On the second floor, Lin offers visitors a re-interpretation of Alexander Rodchenko's (1891-1956) "Workers Club" from 1925.

During this exhibition the "Workers Club" is conceived as a functional space, where the museum will host lectures, workshops, film screenings and other activities.

In the center of the space stands a group of furniture that Lin has produced following the classic designs of Hans Wegner (1914-2007). Set out on either side of the furniture are six black steel slabs inscribed with case studies from research carried out by Atelier Bow-Wow and the department of architecture and urban planning at Tongji University. The research looks at architectural spaces in Shanghai, both well-known ones and also ones that are likely to be overlooked.

Also on the second floor two screens show videos made by artist Cheng Ran, which document more than one month in the lives of the wall painters and construction workers as they prepared for the exhibition. The video not only recorded the work process but also aspects of their daily lives and their various quirks of personality - their motorcycle helmets, their breakfast and their attire.

Standing on the fourth and sixth floors are the temporary accommodation units for construction workers designed by the artist. The structure was originally sited outside the museum. During the installation period, the workers spent days painting the walls and the evenings living in this structure. When the wall painting was completed, the temporary accommodation units were disassembled and re-assembled inside the museum.

Temporary accommodation structure for migrant workers are seen everywhere in Shanghai. Although these structures have no special feature with little attraction, yet they and those who lived in side play an indispensable role in the construction industry and is part of the urban landscape of today's China.

As if echoing the title of the exhibition, these structures are what Lin calls the "Model Home."

Date: Through June 3 (closed on Mondays), 10am-6pm

Venue: Rockbund Art Museum, 20 Huqiu Rd


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