Aurora Museum and Arthub continue the search for alternative angles of contemporary art as a tool to revivify the antiques collection of the museum with the group exhibition Unordinary Space: Liu Shiyuan, Yin Xiuzhen, and Gentucca Bini. Since the inception of Xin Lu, New Roads, a continuative program of contemporary art exhibitions initiated three years ago, projects developed at Aurora have analyzed possibilities of institutional expansion and positioning within the variegated cultural landscape of Shanghai.
Unordinary Space explores the architectural and metaphorical spaces that connect the Aurora Building and the Tadao Ando annexed Museum infrastructure. The physical and imagined connections between the two spaces become the thematic thread in the conception of site-specific sculptural installations, which are dually inspired by the idea of craftsmanship reflected in Aurora’s permanent collection.
The exhibition is articulated in three chapters: the space as a container, the space as surface, and the space as digital platform. For the second time, Alcantara will partner with Aurora, providing its versatile material as a media for the two artists and designer’s new productions.
Yin Xiuzhen’s monumental installation Digestive Cavity, addressing the notion of containers, is conceived as the focal installation intended to strengthen the physical connection between the entrance of the antiques museum and the public space of the Aurora Building. The installation is meant to create a spatial experience, a private sensorial room that invites visitors to reflect upon life’s transience.
The structure for the installation will be built with hundreds of secondhand clothes and Alcantara cuts. The intertwined metal openings organically form a room that depicts a spiritual highway, while the Jingdezhen ceramic vessels embedded in the textile inserts represent fragments of peoples’ lives. Digestive Cavity is a part of a series of works, but the use of ceramics marks a new chapter in Yin’s practice—creating unexpected and foreign objects charged with a disturbing physicality.
Crossing the main hall into the Chandelier Room, five monitors present the work of Liu Shiyuan. Her interpretation of craftsmanship is represented through a digital collage that combines different languages, cultures, and eras. The looping video portraying the artist’s love poem dedicated to love poems is displayed inside as well as on the building façade’s monumental LED screen. This poem seeks to become a manifesto of the lyrical nature that historically distinguishes human civilization.
After translating excerpts of famous love poems written in different countries across centuries, Shiyuan has merged them, giving shape to a seemingly endless poem. The lines become a flux that ironically breaks the definition of poem itself, disrupting the boundaries of rhythm. As words flow by, the background changes continuously, showing myriad patterns and colors assembled with scans of Alcantara material. This metamorphosing backdrop enhances the heterogeneity of the literary references and the variety of their spatial and temporal coordinates.
The last contributor, Gentucca Bini, combines design and architecture to create projects that subvert and challenge perceptions of individual and public environments. Her installation Arora Mueum aims at creating a bi-dimensional palindrome of the glistening architecture in the Chandelier Room through optical illusions.
Visitors will witness the transformation of the baroque room, where the coldness of the marble is counterbalanced by the softness of Alcantara, treated with a complex photographic printing process that makes the material appear as if made of the same marble and glass elements that compose the authentic architecture. Bini blurs the borders between real and imagined to create a flattened inverted reproduction of the unique space.
In this monumental exhibition three women metaphorically comment on the social “containers” that Aurora represents. Their installations invite us to reimagine the meaning of craftsmanship and to open ourselves up to possibilities of interconnections amongst varying cultures and media.