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May 11, 2019

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Cultural displacement and a nice cup of flower tea

BRILLIANT colors, a lively atmosphere, some surprises and humor meet visitors to Tobias Rehberger’s solo exhibition, currently on show at the Rockbund Art Museum.

The 53-year-old is one of the most significant contemporary artists in Germany. He works in the realms of architecture and design to explore the intersection of the two disciplines within the bounds of fine art. His interactive installations alter gallery spaces and investigate the role of functional objects within this context, creating unexpected visual combinations and experiences.

“I am neither an expert in design nor particularly interested in it,” said Rehberger. “I am interested in all kinds of strategies that I can use from other fields that I think could pose interesting questions from the point of view of art. I see myself completely and totally as an artist and as a sculptor, so to speak.”

His Shanghai solo, “If You Don’t Use Your Eyes to See, You Will Use Them to Cry,” displays newly-commissioned works and site-specific installations created especially for the museum.

Adept at incorporating public environments and everyday objects into his work, the artist brings a butcher’s shop, flower arrangements, a teahouse, a bar and public signage to the different floors of the museum. Many of these items play with notions of collective memory and cultural displacement, highlighting the way ideas circulate and transform in new contexts.

A highlight of the exhibition is a teahouse on the third floor.

Visitors must first pee at a rest room adjacent to the teahouse. Through hidden purification equipment, several minutes later, the visitor’s urine becomes a cup of flower tea.

The visitor, if “brave enough,” may drink the cup of flower tea in the faux-Japanese teahouse, built based on Westerners’ misconceptions of how a Japanese teahouse should appear. It is quite a weird experience which is rarely found in other exhibitions.

Also don’t forget to download some of your favorite songs or melodies in your mobile phone before visiting!

On the fourth floor, the artist has created an impressive display of LED light sculptures that mimic the commercial signage systems found in outdoor public spaces. The multi-media installation invites visitors to remotely control the brightness and level of noise in the space according to music or songs played on their phones.


Date: Through May 26, 10am-6pm

Tickets: 50 yuan

Venue: Rockbund Art Museum

Address: 20 Huqiu Rd


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