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2015.12.11 Fri, by
NIHAO, SHANGHAI! Conference Shanghai Project Inaugural Event

[press release]

Shanghai Project

The Shanghai Project is a hybridized international arts festival that brings together mixed teams of culture and arts practitioners from both Shanghai and abroad and from various fields—including contemporary art, film, literature, architecture, design, performance, and education. The ideas and methods generated from these teams of researchers will form the basis for exhibitions, performances, lecture series, and publications projects to be held across the city from September 5 – November 13, 2016.

The Shanghai Project is also a cultural forum through which the inhabitants of Shanghai can speak to and participate in, cultivating a healthy and creative cultural milieu. In particular, this first edition of the Shanghai Project will be launched to develop a network of institutions, independent spaces, collectives, and individual creators, to function as an inclusive platform making connections and initiating projects.

Nihao, Shanghai! International Conference

The Shanghai Project will hold its inaugural event, Nihao, Shanghai! an international conference, at the Pudong Library on December 12–13. Co-organized with Shanghai University, the conference proposes an examination of the city from different points of entry: from the daily lives of its citizens to cinematic, literary and popular representations of Shanghai old and new; from the rapid emergence of museums and cultural institutions to the architectural, social, and demographic transformations of the city; and from the production of art and design to new forms of urban spectacle. The conference is organized into four panels, scheduled over two days: The City in Myth and History, Who is the Audience?, Culture State/State of Culture, and City as Image.

The title of the conference, Nihao, Shanghai! is derived from the Hanyu Pinyin, or official phonetic transcription, of the greeting 你好, 上海! or “Hello, Shanghai!”. This conference will serve as both greeting and welcome, first to the residents of Shanghai, and second to our international guests, to explore and engage in the artistic heartbeat of this city. In the same way that ‘Nihao, Shanghai!’ is neither English nor Mandarin Chinese, the conference is planned as a mutually legible middle ground that highlights Shanghai Project’s intended role as a nexus connecting the varied publics of Shanghai with existing cultural infrastructure both at home and abroad. Hosted by the new Pudong Library, one such cultural infrastructure, Nihao, Shanghai! will be free and open to the public, two essential components for enlisting the city’s inhabitants in Shanghai’s recent creative renaissance.

Planned as the first in-depth conversation initiated by the Shanghai Project, we have invited a broad spectrum of speakers, from visual artists, writers, and architects, to educators, scholars, critics, and curators. Hans Ulrich Obrist, Co-director of the Serpentine Galleries, will deliver the keynote for City as Image and moderate the panel on The City in Myth and History. Also speaking on the topic will be Sue Anne Tay, writer and documentary photographer behind ShanghaiStreetStories.com. The British-Indian sculptor Anish Kapoor and Larys Frogier, Director of Rockbund Art Museum, will examine the various publics of Shanghai in Who is the Audience?, a panel moderated by writer and curator, Carol Yinghua Lu. And curator, arts writer, and Executive Director of OCAT Xi’an, Karen Smith, will participate in the panel on Culture State/State of Culture, along with Professor of East Asian Studies and Comparative Literature at NYU, Zhang Xudong.

The discussions generated from these four panels will set the ground for a yearlong investigation of Shanghai in preparation for the opening of Shanghai Project in September 2016.

NIHAO, SHANGHAI! Conference Schedule

Saturday , December 12
09:00-09:30 Registration
09:30-10:00 Opening Remarks by Yongwoo Lee (President of the Shanghai Project, Executive Director of the Shanghai Himalayas Museum) and Wang Dawei (Dean, Fine Art Academy, Shanghai University)

SESSION 1: The City in Myth and History (10:00am – 1:10pm)
Inspired by the writings and archive projects on Shanghai by Christian Henriot [See virtualshanghai.net], this first panel examines the most recent iteration of the reconstruction of the memory of Shanghai in myth and history. Taking up the multiple memories of Shanghai that have been activated in the past 25 years, the panel asks after how they are produced and transformed with time, the mediums that inflect this process (such as iconic literary and cinematic representations, traumatic historical events, or rhythms of everyday life), and their evolving modes of representation. From considering the changing valuation and image of the mythic site of the Shanghai Bund, to opening up for examination the wider Shanghai metropolitan area, how might we look beyond the “reinvented and sanitized” images of the past to excavate its many interlinked, conflicting and forgotten histories?

10:00-10:30 Keynote by Sue Anne Tay (Writer and documentary photographer, shanghaistreetstories.com)
10:30-10:50 Francesca Tarocco (NYU Shanghai, co-founder and co-director Shanghai Studies Society)
10:50-11:10 Zhu Dake (Professor, Institute of Cultural Criticism, Tongji University, Shanghai)
11:10-11:30 Norman Klein (Professor, CalArts, Los Angeles) [via Skype]
11:30-11:50 Gu Jun (Professor, School of Sociology and Political Science, Shanghai University)
11:50-12:50 Discussion led by Moderator: Hans Ulrich Obrist (Co-director of the Serpentine Galleries, London
12:50- 1:10 Q&A

SESSION 2: Who Is the Audience? (3:30 – 6:00pm)
‘Public’ refers to a shared identity or collective interest and the resulting claim to inclusiveness; further it implies a forum for popular participation as a means to recognize, define or contest such understandings and identities. When considering the engagement of a public, one must look to the metrics publics use to identify themselves, the rhetoric employed to deliver and mediate information between audience and material, and the tools needed to measure levels of engagement, ultimately determining the efficacy of mediated programming. This panel examines what it means to develop cultural programming that is conscientious of the cultural needs of diverse publics that comprise the rapidly changing cityscapes and migratory populations of megacities such as Shanghai. In light of the city’s spatial, politico-economic, and migratory history, what are the very identities and characteristics that comprise Shanghai’s varied publics?

3:30-4:00 Keynote by Anish Kapoor (Artist) [via Skype]
4:00-4:20 Larys Frogier (Director of the Rockbund Art Museum, Shanghai)
4:20- 4:40 Zhang Pingjie (Artist, curator and critic)
4:40- 5:40 Discussion led by Moderator: Carol Yinghua Lu (Researcher, writer and curator; contributing editor for Frieze magazine)
5:40- 6:00 Q&A

Sunday, December 13
09:30-10:00 Registration

SESSION 3: City as Image (10:00am-12:50pm)
This panel, City as Image, explores the ways in which image, spectacle, and chaos intersect in the context of Shanghai. Shanghai’s potential as an image is open-ended and infinitely adaptable, allowing inhabitants to determine the ways in which they relate to both their physical space and each other. However, upon declaring Shanghai’s ambition for growth, the construction of a spectacle-laden cityscape is both creating and reinforcing a particular image of Shanghai’s global future. This panel examines Shanghai’s competing visions of modernity in relation to Western discourses of modernity, Chinese conceptions of spectacle, and the contradictions of contemporary globalization.

10:00-10:30 Keynote by Hans Ulrich Obrist (Co-director of the Serpentine Galleries, London)
10:30-10:50 MAP Office (multidisciplinary platform founded by Laurent Gutierrez and Valérie Portefaix, HK)
10:50- 11:10 Ling Min (Professor, Fine Arts Academy, Shanghai University)
11:10-11:30 Marysia Lewandowska (Artist in Residence, Asia Art Archive, HK)
11:30- 12:30 Discussion led by Moderator: Yu Ting (Deputy Director, Urban Design Institute, Shanghai Xian Dai Architectural Design Group)
12:30-12:50 Q & A

SESSION 4: Culture State/State of Culture (2:30 – 5:00pm)
Shanghai, in this current “post-Expo” phase of development, aims to establish the city as China’s cultural capital and as a global cultural metropolis on par with London, Paris, and New York. Concerted cultural development, evidenced by a burgeoning ecology of museums, theaters, festivals, culture complexes and industry clusters, intends to signal that the city has “arrived” as a global metropolis in the 21st century. This panel addresses both key dilemmas as well as opportunities accompanying the rapid growth of culture and arts institutions and initiatives in Shanghai. We seek to gain an understanding of the different actors, forces, and alliances (local/national/global) that are shaping the cultural landscape of the city, as well as open up new ways of imagining and intervening in its possible futures.

2:30-3:00 Keynote by Zhang Xudong (Professor of East Asian Studies, Comparative Literature, NYU; Professor, School of Humanities, Peking University)
3:00-3:20 Ben Wood (Architect, Studio Shanghai)
3:20- 3:40 Ying Zhou (Architect, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, ETHZ)
3:40- 4:40 Discussion led by Moderator: Karen Smith (Executive Director of OCAT Xi’an)
4:40-5:00 Q & A
5:00-5:15 Closing Remarks