The Kind Stranger

The Kind Stranger

UNArt Center

Exhibition key visual. Concept: LIU Jing. Photo: Daisy.

August 13, 2019
The Kind Stranger
August 24–October 20, 2019
Opening: August 23
UNArt Center
E.S.A. Space
No.150 North Nanquan Road
200120 Shanghai
Hours: Wednesday–Monday 5–10pm

Editorial team members: Art Yan, Iris Long, Bai Zhifei, Zheng Yunhan, Liu Jing, Zhang Yingying

Artists: Aaajiao, Bi Rongrong, Cédric Van Parys, Chen Zhou, Ding Li, Feng Bingyi, Fito Segrera, Geng Jianyi, Guo Cheng, Hefin Jones, Hu Jieming, Ji Wenyu & Zhu Weibing, Jin Shan, Li Shan, Lin Ke, Liu Ren, Liu Yi, Louisa Galiardi, Marc Lee, Maya Kramer, Nick Ervinck, Onformative, Pixy Liao, Rena Giesecke, RMBit, Shi Yong, Shi Zhiying, Su Chang, Vivian Xu, Wu Yiming, Xiao Jiang, Xu Zhe, Yin Yi, Yutaka Makino, Zhang Ding, Zhang Haimeng & Karis CHANG & Henry YIN & Feng Kai & Lu Yunbo, Zhang Liaoyuan.

UNArt Center will present its opening show The Kind Stranger from August 23, 2019 to October 20, 2019. The center is located in the former site of Dongchang Cinema, the first of its kind in Pudong. UNArt Center strives to become an international communication platform for technology, art and education.

43 works from 37 artists are exhibited in the show, covering different forms such as painting, installation, photography, video, performance, etc. Most of the artists are from or based in Shanghai, and all of the works were made between 2008 and 2018.

Titled 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. The entire exhibition is based on a fictional scenario: The Kind Stranger, as the protagonist of the story, is a character who lives “post-singularity”. 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 to enjoy a psychological retreat from the year 2019, and the city Shanghai.

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 they go towards the same direction as before, or is a radical transformation on the horizon?

Some futurologists have said that 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 answer for 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 on the discussion of “new cognitive capabilities”, as a positive response to this transitional time.

During the exhibition, the UNArt Center will hold a series of public education activities to further the discussion of the exhibition topic with the public, and also release publications related to this show.

Special thanks to: swissnex China, Pro Helvetia Shanghai, British Council, Department for Culture and Education of the German Consulate General in Shanghai.

About UNArt Center
Located in the Dongchang Cinema, the first cinema in Pudong, Shanghai, UNArt Center is committed to becoming an integrated international communication platform that interlinks technology, art, and education. Through an innovative perspective of art and an open mindset, the art center integrates and leverages multidisciplinary and collaborative multi-media to offer cutting-edge research results domestically and internationally, to promote science, technology & art education, and to assess feasibility and sustainability of a cross-industry partnership model.

About Dongchang Cinema
Dongchang Cinema is located at No. 150 North Nanquan Road in the Pudong New Area; it is one of the rare old-fashioned theaters in Shanghai. It was officially opened in 1954, and in the 1980s, Dongchang Cinema debuted the first widescreen in Pudong and soon entered its peak operational period. With a packed interior and crowded exterior of the movie hall, ticket buyers lined up overnight in this unprecedented popularity. A mere decade later in the 1990s, as the Pudong New Area teemed with new cinemas replete with multiple rooms and advanced projection equipment, the antiquated Dongchang Cinema soon fell out of favor with the public. After closing for a decade, the Dongchang Cinema operations were resurrected by Shanghai Pudong Media Group in 2014. Later the name was changed to E.S.A. Space.

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UNArt Center
August 13, 2019

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