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July 30, 2022

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Nanjing display makes brave attempt to question humanity in pandemic times

With the aim of joining the ranks of the country’s top private art museums, the newly opened Deji Art Museum in Nanjing surprised many not only with its size and downtown location, but also with its high-quality collection.

Nanjing is the capital city of east China’s Jiangsu Province. It is one of China’s ancient capitals. The city has boosted its contemporary art scene in recent years, especially through the launch of Nanjing International Art Fair in 2020.

“In the Line of Flight, for Possible Worlds,” the museum’s opening exhibition, features a cluster of installation, video art and interactive works by nearly 10 famed artists and art groups both from home and abroad. These include Pierre Huyghe, one of the most renowned conceptual artists in France, and Zhang Peili, “father of China’s video art.”

Zhang Ga, curator of the exhibition, explained the title.

“In perilous times when war breaks loose, pandemics run rampant, markets are shrinking and ecospheres are anguished, a line of flight furnishes a swatch of necessary resilience in the plight of despair,” Zhang said. “But the line of flight is much more than a path of retreat, a roundabout or even a defense. I hope this exhibition would provide a microcosm to reflect on the humanity and the world in the post-pandemic era.”

“XL Chamber,” created by Zhang Peili, is a highlight.

The installation is constructed with three jointed modules of rooms with 10 shutter doors that close or open randomly. The algorithm governs the movement of the shutters ­— sometimes moving together, sometimes one by one, which trap the visitors with no apparent rule to follow.

When people happen to enter the room with shutters closed, they would be forced to experience the uneasiness of a confined space utterly with no control of themselves.

Another interesting art piece is “Beholding the Big Bang,” a kinetic sculpture created by Arthur Ganson.

The piece features a motor that drives a series of gears designed to reduce its input speed, so that it would take 13.82 billion years for the final gear to rotate once.

Actually 13.82 billion is one of the estimates for the age of universe since the Big Bang. Here, the artist discusses the past and present, silence and movement, real and illusion.


Exhibition info:

Date: Through November 6, 10am-10pm (Tuesdays-Sundays), 2-10pm (Mondays)

Venue: Deji Art Museum

Address: 8/F, Deji Plaza (Phase 2), 18 Zhongshan Rd, Nanjing City, Jiangsu Province


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