Thursday, June 13, 2013

The least artistic way to promote art - Shanghai, China (with photos)

The former power plant converted to a museum
Thanks to the astonishing high-speed railway system that China has implemented in a matter of few years Shanghai can be reached from Suzhou in less than thirty minutes by train. The first time I covered that distance in the opposite direction, back in 2005, the cattle convoy trip I traveled with took almost twice as long, and the atmosphere was way more picturesque. Today our journey's goal is the "Power Station of Art" museum, where the "15 minutes eternal" exhibition, entirely dedicated to Andy Warhol, will be held until July 28.
The Power Station of Art, as the name suggests, is a real power plant, no longer in use, converted to a museum in a very interested way. A fascinating structure and a well realized project indeed. One of those works that nowadays are built (in a reasonable time) only in China, the only country that can afford a large number of almost non repayable investments just for status or strategic reasons. You can take a look at some of the details in the photos I'm publishing below. You won't find any of Warhol's works though, as I was one of the few visitors who respected the "no-photo" rule. Besides the event venue I obviously liked the exhibition itself. The thing that surprised me the most though was the entrance fee: 20 RMB, equivalent to two and a half euros! And I'm talking about full priced tickets here, not the discounted ones for students or retired people. Although the exhibition has already been opened for one and a half months and this is not likely to be the place where the American artist's fame reaches its peak there were a lot of visitors and most of them seemed to be extremely interested. Asia is a place where it is very easy to be charged up to five times as much for attractions that are way less worthwhile, if worthwhile at all.
The fee is so cheap that even if you had one of those student or journalist cards - obviously fake - that you can get for a few baht in Khaosan Road you wouldn't probably feel like using it. 
There is a lot of talk about promoting art these days in the west: everyone of us has heard tons of bizarre ideas and vague criticisms aimed at no one in particular. The Chinese, as everyone knows, are very materialistic fellows, and they decided to opt of the egg of columbus, the plainest, less original and therefore paradoxically less artistic solution there was: setting a low price. An extremely low price. 
There will be those who claim that doing that in the rest of the world is impossible, because of this reason and due to that one. That it is not a viable solution.
And maybe they are right.
Maybe it really is an impossible thing to do.
What's certain, though, is that it definitely works.

Museum photos:

China has its "biennale" too/0
China has its "biennale" too/1
The museum hall/0
Little Alice and Warhol's cows 
Little Alice in the children's area
Museum hall/1
Museum hall/2 
A power plant machine
A bit of history

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