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Group Show "The Kind Stranger" at UNArt Center in Shanghai

  • UNArt Center No.150 North Nanquan Road, Pudong, Shanghai,200120 (map)

UNArt Center
No.150 North Nanquan Road, Pudong, Shanghai,200120
Editorial Team Art Yan, Iris Long, Bai Zhifei, Zheng Yunhan, Liu Jing, Zhang Yingying, Chen Xian
Participant aaajiao, Bi Rongrong, Cédric Van Parys, Chen Zhou, Ding Li, Feng Bingyi, Fito Segrera, Guo Cheng, Geng Jianyi, Hefin Jones, Hu Jieming, Ji Wenyu & Zhu Weibing, Jin Shan, Li Shan, Pixy Liao, Lin Ke, Liu Ren, Liu Yi, Louisa Galiardi, Marc Lee, Maya Kramer, Nick Ervinck, Onformative, Rena Giesecke, RMBit, Shi Yong, Shi Zhiying, Su Chang, Vivian XU, Wu Yiming, Yin Yi, Xiao Jiang, Xu Zhe, FFF2116, Yutaka Makino, Zhang Ding, Zhang Liaoyuan

Organizer Shanghai Pudong Media Group, UNArt Center
Support swissnex China, Pro Helvetia Shanghai, British Council, Department for Culture and Education of the German Consulate General in Shanghai

Titled as “The Kind Stranger ”, the show aims to reflect and to some degree respond to the new conditions and scenarios of contemporary human society driven by the accelerating technological revolution. 30 artists are exhibited in the show, 40 if also include the contributors for the publication. The majority are actually from or base in Shanghai, and all the works are made in the decade from 2008 to 2018.

The entire exhibition is based on a science fictional scenario: “The Kind Stranger”, as the protagonist of the story, is a character who lives in the “new era”. The exhibition is reminiscent of an investigative scene in which the “private collections” of this “kind stranger”, whether in physical or digital forms, are uncovered. The site remains ambiguous in its temporal or spatial anchor, whilst inviting the audiences to locate, even orient the items, the text, the sound and vibe, even him/herself, as part of the story full of legacy inherited from ancestors who lived on the planet called “The Earth”.

It is a psychological retreat from the year 2019, and the city Shanghai. All “contemporary art” in the show are anchor-less, archive-less, but floating compositions of the Kind Stranger’s dream: a cognitive, and not physical status of “space and time”.

Humanistic concepts had played their roles alongside, or intertwined with the evolving progress of our technical environment. The so-called “humanistic” and “technological” were not to be considered separately, instead, as parties that co-exist and balance each other within a larger dynamic historical flow. Yet, we seem to have entered a historical episode in which discussions of technological acceleration and singularity are engendering new peripheries and balances of the two parties. Hence, the humanism coordinates need to be interrogated for us to still orient: can it go towards the same direction as before, or a radical transformation is on the horizon?

Some futurologists have put that the human society is reaching the very “end stage” of its existence. Be it a prophet or warning, we might need to reconsider, how we - both on the individual and collective level - can be prepared for the upcoming “new era”: the apocalyptical, the trans-human, or the age of Gaia in Latour’s terms. Would the “new era” be truly “new”?

The exhibition does not attempt to provide any solid answers to these interrogations, but as a cultural event, it may still tap on the situation that we’re all immersed in: a time of significant transitions, something we all have to go through. The exhibition touches the discussion of “new cognitive capabilities”, as a positive response to this transitional time.