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For its opening exhibition, UCCA Edge looks to the city it will call home at the moment when China’s art world came to understand itself as part of a global contemporary. In and around the year 2000, amidst emerging markets, reforming institutions, and artist-led organizations, a slate of exhibitions occurred that would expand the range of possibilities for experimental art in a city on the verge of a new international centrality. New art took root everywhere, from industrial warehouses to municipal museums, from retail space in unopened shopping malls to the opening ceremony of a major international summit. A range of forces contributed to this flourishing, including an official system warming to advanced artistic practices, a renewed faith in speculative markets, and an aspirational embrace of globalization based on a historic cosmopolitanism. Recent publications and exhibitions, notably Afterall’s Uncooperative Contemporaries and Power Station of Art’s “Shanghai Waves,” have explored this unique concurrence. “City on the Edge,” by contrast, takes a more poetic approach to evoke the energy of the era, bringing together works by some of the Chinese and international artists—many with deep connections to UCCA—who brought this new formation into being. It follows in a tradition of UCCA opening exhibitions, begun by Fei Dawei’s “’85 New Wave: The Birth of Chinese Contemporary Art” (2007), that position a new museum in relation to the art historical context in which it will function. Seen today, these artists and their contributions allow us to reflect on how far the city and its cultural ecology have come and to understand the experimental ethos that underlies Shanghai’s current position at the forefront of China’s global art scene. “City on the Edge” is curated by UCCA Director Philip Tinari.


Shanghai, China


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