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Visual Arts

Christoph Draeger and Ursula Biemann at Shanghai Biennale


Title: the 12th Shanghai Biennale
Theme: ​Proregress——Art in an Age of Historical Ambivalence
Date: November 10, 2018 – March 10, 2019
Venue: Power Station of Art, Shanghai
Supporter (Swiss artist part): Pro Helvetia Shanghai, Swiss Arts Council

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Zurich-based multimedia artists Christoph Draeger and Ursula Biemann will each bring a distinctive project to the 12th Shanghai Biennale. Being the first international contemporary art biennale in mainland China, this event has grown to become a significant platform for global contemporary art and discourse.

The two artists’ works echo the theme of “Proregress – Art in an Age of Historical Ambivalence”, a concept stemmed from the mystic dance steps of Daoist ritual. The constant combination of gain and loss, openness and fear, acceleration and reaction, which defines our era of “proregression”, also exists as a sensibility characterized by profound ambivalence. In this context, contemporary culture appears as a complex site of reflection defined by excess and powerlessness, transgression and repression, social activism and many brands of nihilism. “Proregress” provides a framework to explore the role of contemporary art as a means by which the struggles and anxieties of many different latitudes are reflected and turned into subjective experience, training the contemporary subject in the ambivalence the allows us to tolerate the contradictory forces of contemporary life.

Christoph Draeger, From Without and From Within [The Auroville Project] (with Heidrun Holzfeind). Installation at Kunstpavillon Innsbruck including videos, photographs, sculptures, a geodesic dome, plants, archive materials, 2017
Christoph Draeger will present “Auroville” (in collaboration with Heidrun Holzfeind), an immersive installation comprised of videos, photos, sculptures, archive materials and living plants, based on his investigations of an ambitious intentional community founded in the 1960s in India. The project looks at how the utopian ideals of common ownership, of life-long learning and research are lived today.

Ursula Biemann, Forest Law, 2014, Sync 2-channel video essay, 38’

Ursula Biemann will display “Forest Law”, a two-channel video projection accompanied with an installation of maps, documents, and publication. This project draws on the research carried out in the Ecuadorian rainforest, underpinned by a series of landmark legal cases that bring the forest and its indigenous leaders, lawyers, and scientists to court.

About the Shanghai Biennale

As the first international contemporary art biennial on the Chinese mainland, the Shanghai Biennale was launched in 1996. After 21 years of development, it has grown to become a significant platform for the exhibition of global contemporary art and for discourse. Since its launch, the biennale has maintained high levels of artistic and intellectual standards while consistently analyzing the evolution of urban culture in the international context.

The 12th edition of the Shanghai Biennale will take place at the Power Station of Art (PSA) from November 10, 2018 to March 10, 2019. Cuauhtémoc Medina has been appointed Chief Curator of 12th Shanghai Biennale. In January 2018, the Power Station of Art announced the three co-curators of the 12th Shanghai Biennale. They are María Belén Sáez de Ibarra from Bogotá, Yukie Kamiya from New York and Wang Weiwei from Shanghai. 


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