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Taking inspiration from the outdoor theaters of ancient Greece, “Urban Theater: A Comedy in Four Acts” applies lessons learned from the history, design, functionality, and continuing cultural influence of these stages to the unique architectural setting of UCCA Edge’s fourth floor terrace. The museum’s outdoor space will become a stage suspended in the air, merging into the fabric of the city around it. The exhibition features site-specific works on the four sides of the terrace by artists Cao Fei, Aki Sasamoto, Wong Ping, and Erwin Wurm, activating the space to further integrate it into the lively urban atmosphere that surrounds the building. Through the artists’ interventions, the balcony shall become an open, playful platform for art, sparking creativity and reflection.

From Cao Fei’s surreal binoculars looking out over the cityscape and Sasamoto’s unconventional “bar” bringing together weather reports and performance art, to Wong Ping’s voyeur-like sculpture, whose eyes are sometimes soft, sometimes hard, and Wurm’s curved car poised above a busy intersection: the exhibition can be regarded as a four act comedy staged in an outdoor theater. Whether through direct humor or the absurd, each artist finds a way to scratch beneath the surface of ordinary scenes and objects, imparting the world around us with a fresh sense of strangeness. In the face of an increasingly manicured city, these highly theatrical pieces may ambiguously tease viewers, or playfully remind them of the absurdity and apathy hidden in daily life. The exhibition also attempts to present the significance of humor in all of its complexity: not merely a cunning disguise or cloak of cynicism worn as protection from the contemporary world, but also a latent means of resistance and liberation. “Urban Theater” is curated by UCCA Curator Ara Qiu.

Image: Aki Sasamoto, Weather Bar (video still), 2021. Courtesy the artist.


Shanghai, China


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