ART installation exhibitions are rare in Shanghai due to limited exhibition space for big works. After initially being unveiled at shows, they often find their way into warehouses and some are never seen again.
"Things from Warehouse 5" is such an exhibition of such works plucked from ShanghART's warehouse.
"This show is not only a reorganization of archival memory but also an attempt to set up a new context for interpretation," says Helen Zhu, a staff member at ShanghART.
Installation pieces include "Summer 2009" by Yang Zhenzhong, "Untitled: Drawer 1" by Zhang Ding, "3600W" by Chen Xiaoyun and "The Density of History" by MadeIn Company.
Chen's "3600W" was shown in 2005 in Hangzhou at the exhibition "Let Some Ideas Be Seen." It consists of 100 vertical fluorescent lamps placed tightly side by side, giving the impression of a huge piece of flickering white silk on which a colossal octopus is outlined in ink. The octopus is also expelling ink.
The artwork creates a striking contrast between the white light and the black outlines of the ink-expelling octopus, which seems to be a moving brush in a traditional Chines ink-wash painting.
The work has subtle and harmonious qualities, but the lamps also produce a harsh glare and flicker due to an unstable power supply.
"The Density of History" was created by MadeIn Company, a contemporary art creation company established in 2009 in Shanghai by Xu Zhen. It features several classic totem-like sculptures made of polystyrene foam and painted in vivid colors.
The work creates a "misunderstanding of appreciation" for viewers who compare the works with real totems.
Different from paintings and sculptures, installation art is more difficult to interpret at first sight, requiring long consideration and the help of explanations placed beside the work.
"But that's the charm of installation. It may simply create an emotion or atmosphere that is interpreted differently by different viewers," Zhu says.