Yongwoo Lee & Hans Ulrich Obrist announced as Co-Artistic Directors of inaugural edition

Yongwoo Lee & Hans Ulrich Obrist announced as Co-Artistic Directors of inaugural edition

Shanghai Project

Design: Project Projects.

March 26, 2016
Yongwoo Lee & Hans Ulrich Obrist announced as Co-Artistic Directors of inaugural edition
September 5–November 13, 2016

The Shanghai Project is pleased to announce Yongwoo Lee, Director of Shanghai Himalayas Museum together with Hans Ulrich Obrist, Co-Director of the Serpentine Galleries, London, as Co-Artistic Directors for the inaugural edition. Entitled 2116, the theme of this first iteration of the Shanghai Project gapes at the 22nd century and questions the portmanteau “sustainable future.”

The Shanghai Project is an ideas platform departing from the notion of a culture and knowledge “emporium,” a shared time and space for people to gather, procure, and exchange knowledge and culture. Convening people from China and abroad, researchers will query and experiment with the historic notion of a trading post and the utopian proposal of department stores as the “one-stop-shop” containing “something for everyone” whereby opportunities for spontaneous meeting and exchange allow for unique moments of engagement and innovation. The platform, or “emporium,” will form the basis for cross-cultural interventions, exhibitions, public art installations, commissioned architectural structures, public programs, and an open call to take place in the Shanghai Himalayas Center and various locations around Shanghai from September 5–November 13, 2016.

In 100 years, according to a recent report by Climate Central, if no action is taken to curb emissions and the Earth continues to warm at its present rate, 76% of greater Shanghai’s current population live in areas that will be submerged underwater.(1) Equally startling is the projection that if current policies and heavy migration flows continue over the next 15 years, nearly 70% of China’s population will live in cities.(2) How will human saturation within urban Chinese centers impact not only the environment, but also social and economic systems? As techno-progressive futurists predict and invent new devices to help save us from ourselves and to make human life sustainable, we must wonder if the inevitability of extinction renders such efforts moot. We might ask instead: sustainability for whom?

As if the title of a science fiction novel, 2116 is an arbitrary placeholder, a substitute numeral for a time and place in the fantastically distant future, a vehicle through which we are free to experiment. Yet, the 22nd century is close enough that the future can be measured and predicted, conditioned by what we know and what exists today. The Shanghai Project invites researchers to speculate on this both distant and proximate future and the many valences of sustainability. The provocation to imagine such futures and to think critically about sustainability—beyond an ecological notion—is at once onerous and emancipatory. As such, it will be commanded not just by scientists, futurists, and science fiction novelists, but also by artists, filmmakers, performers, musicians, designers, architects, writers, poets, philosophers, historians, economists, geographers, sociologists, anthropologists, journalists, doctors, lawyers, engineers, hackers, bloggers, activists, and the people of Shanghai.

Interdisciplinary approaches + (root) researchers
While the concept of interdisciplinarity itself is not new and is de facto encountered and practiced in daily life, the Shanghai Project foresees the presentation of interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary projects as a way of engaging audiences that have not previously participated in discourses generated within cultural realms. It is through interdisciplinarity that we attempt to challenge pre-conceptions of what is “culture” and what is “practice.”

The Shanghai Project will designate all participants as “researchers,” all of whom will be chosen from five fundamental disciplinary frameworks, including: Visual Art; Architecture, Design, and Communication; Performance, Moving Image, and Sound; Humanities and Social Sciences; and Science, Technology, and Ecology. Anchoring the Shanghai Project is a new “root researcher” system. Inviting eight to ten individuals from various disciplines, these “root researchers” will in turn build interdisciplinary teams. Each of these teams will produce a publication to be launched at the conclusion of the Shanghai Project, as well as a new artwork, film, didactic display, etc. to be installed during the project’s opening. In addition to the Root Researchers, another 30-40 individual researchers will produce public art installations, participate in public programming, or commit existing works to the exhibition.

Qidian: an open call
As an independent module of the Shanghai Project, Qidian is dedicated to the discovery of young thinkers, do-ers, and makers across China, providing a unique platform so they can network and share ideas with a wider international audience. For its inaugural edition, Qidian collaborates with the 89plus, a long-term international research project co-founded by Hans Ulrich Obrist and Simon Castets that investigates the generation of innovators born in or after 1989, to bring together creative individuals of China's jiulinghou (post-90s) generation through a nationwide open call. Selected candidates will be invited as Researchers to the Shanghai Project to respond to the theme 2116, and their proposed works will be curated into an exhibition with projects by other 89plus participants from around the world.

The Shanghai Project is generously supported by the Zendai Group and Envision Energy, and organized by the Shanghai Himalayas Museum.

For more information, please visit www.shanghai-project.org or contact the press department at xian.chen [​at​] shanghai-project.org.

(1) Strauss, B. H., Kulp, S. and Levermann, A. 2015. Mapping Choices: Carbon, Climate, and Rising Seas, Our Global Legacy. Climate Central Research Report. pp. 1-38. http://sealevel.climatecentral.org/uploads/research/Global-Mapping-Choices-Report.pdf.

(2) Johnson, Ian. "As Beijing Becomes a Supercity, the Rapid Growth Brings Pains." The New York Times. July 19, 2015. http://nyti.ms/1KeDmuf.

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