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February 26, 2012

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Looking back to peer into the future

THE nostalgia theme turns up fairly frequently in the art world. Shanghai's Museum of Contemporary Art Chairman and Director Samuel Kung says this is because "looking back is a way to look into the future. A new journey is borne out of retrospection toward the future of contemporary art."

The museum is currently the host of "Nostalgia: East Asia Contemporary Art Exhibition," which is part of the "China-South Korea-Japan Culture Shuttle" implemented by the foreign ministers of the three nations in 2007. The exhibit also celebrates 20 years of diplomatic relations between China and South Korea, and 40 years between China and Japan.

Organized by Kim Sun-hee, a representative curator of the Asian art world, the exhibit presents works by 14 artists from the Chinese mainland, Taiwan, South Korea and Japan.

"The hope is that new perspectives can be opened up in Chinese contemporary art through this exhibition, which expresses nostalgia for traditional art that has been lost in East Asian contemporary art due to the influence of Western modern art," Kim says. "We also hope the exhibit revitalizes emotional values that are the most fundamental and universal of human values, as well as offering a venue for the exchange of contemporary art among the three countries."

The spotlight is on a series of photos taken by Chinese photographer Hai Bo.

In comparison to recent photography works that rely on digital technology, Hai remains faithful to cameras that require film.

He says it started when he discovered old photo albums and faded photographs of his family, relatives and friends.

Hai says he started to wonder where those people are now. Some may have left their hometown a long time ago, while some may have passed away. The artist decided to track them down and take their photographs again.

The series of photos is impressive with rich details.

Another highlight is the photo collages by Won Seoung-won, a female artist from South Korea.

She takes images from everyday life and turns them into collages. Some works include tens of thousands of photos, others only hundreds.

Before starting the collage, she conceptualizes a story. Each piece requires elaborate planning and a great deal of work.

Date: Through May 1 (closed on Monday), 10am-5pm

Address: Gate 7, People's Park, 231 Nanjing Rd W.


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