Thursday, September 6, 2012

Under Construction

Quick check on the installation which seems to be basically on track now, then – with Patrick in tow – we head off to see the Shanghai Art Museum's new home in what was the China Pavilion in Expo Park and is now renamed China Art Museum, Shanghai. It is of course massive, with a hell of a lot of gallery space to fill. They will open on 1 October with a suitably grandiose exhibition: a cultural perspective on the history of civilization with iconic works from a number of world-class museums, including the British Museum.
And from there, a quick drive to the Power Station of Art, which is not dissimilar to Tate Modern, big chimney and all. This is the new venue for the Shanghai Biennale which is also supposed to open on 1 October – three weeks from now. Three months would in my view be optimistic, as we are taken around the scarily unready construction site. However, this is China, so I wouldn’t bet against it. We met Deputy Director Li Xu and the Biennale’s Chief Curator Qiu Zhijie. How they had time to see us I have simply no idea.
Back to Himalayas Art Museum for the press conference which went OK, then to Shanghai Grand Theatre for a very different type of press conference – high tea with actress Tang Wei (star of Ang Lee’s great film Lust/Caution) – to announce the Edinburgh Fringe shows we’re doing next month. She’s a big fan of British theatre (here she is at the BAFTA Awards in 2008). Really nice of her to help us with the promotion.
Then to the newly renovated former British Consulate building, now owned by the Peninsula Hotel and beautifully restored to its former ‘glory’. The toilets, particularly, are amazing. We’d arranged dinner and a talk between AS Byatt and Chinese writer Wang Anyi (The Song of Everlasting Sorrow etc). Nice to see Antonia again, still clutching her big roll of sellotape. It was great – absolutely packed with people standing in the aisles and wedged into every nook & cranny. The Q&A at the end was feverish, with people clamoring to ask their questions. Could have gone on for hours.
Finally to SH Contemporary, Shanghai’s version of Frieze. Bumped into various people, including an artist called Gregory Burns who also turns out to be a swimming multi-medal winner in both the Barcelona and Atlanta Paralympics.  

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