Keeping its pace with the dynamics of our times, Shanghai, a legendary name in urban evolution, has become one of the most dynamic, exciting and promising global cities. Shanghai is also a unique site for contemporary art. The art scene here has long been integral to the process of urban expansion and of opening to the outside world, while individuality and self-reflection are emphasized to obtain a real form of freedom of imagination and expression. Along with the maturing of its economy and markets and the continuous expansion of its cultural vision, Shanghai is rapidly becoming an important site for global artistic exchange and creation.
The Rockbund Art Museum is rooted in a profound cultural heritage and thrives on a foresight for future ideals. From its earlier days as the RAS building and the then “Shanghai Museum,” to its opening as a public library, and now re-emerging as contemporary art museum, this establishment indicates a revival or a renaissance of a historically important institution, and marks the latest attempt and efforts of Shanghai to put itself in the global art map. Curated by Hou Hanru, an active and much acclaimed curator in international contemporary art world, By Day, By Night, Or Some (Special) Things A Museum Can Do” is the first ever group exhibition since the inauguration of RAM. The exhibition presents works by 9 artists from both Chinese and international art worlds, and an event program developed in collaboration with a number of art institutions from Shanghai. The driving force for this project is the in/trans-plant of reality and everyday life into the museum space whereby an artistic event that functions in line with the never-stop city life is attempted.
In Hou Hanru’s conception, By Day, By Night is by no means a conventional exhibition, but an open-ended result of each single artist’s understanding and experience of Shanghai - the cultural backdrop of the project. They have brought about new perspectives to illustrate the transformation of urban life, and in the meantime, constructed their own connections with such a backdrop in their signature styles. This new relationship ushers in more experimental efforts and original creation in their works, in which sense the “exhibition” has evolved into a dynamic and complex process of production and communication beyond the conventional mode of curation.
The exhibition will be structured in two distinct but intertwined components in order to create an intimate and efficient relationship amongst the artists, the works, the event, the institution and the everyday reality of city life. The exhibition will be open to public from daytime through nighttime with constant surprises. During the daytime, a more materialized aspect of artistic and intellectual productions will be on view on the site. In the nighttime, it invites the public to experience and to enjoy things they cannot normally find in either their daytime life or ordinary night entertainments. Four art and education institutions and media from local community -- Ray Art Centre (a photography agency), Xiyi Tang (a French-Chinese experimental art school), Art World Magazine and ArtChina Magazine -- are invited to curate together with the museum’s curatorial team the evening programme, which encompasses a series of events and performances, from lectures, concerts, to film screening of a selection of works recommended by the participating artists. The exhibition spaces will become the most passionate platform of cultural debates and, moreover, a platform for professionals of various disciplines – often beyond the field of art – to exchange their views and insights with the general public.
By Day, By Night is a discussion initiated by Rockbund Art Museum regarding the missions and functions of an art museum, and its positioning to take root from the city but strive to become an original and unique institution for contemporary art and culture. This uniqueness, at first, can be discovered in the expansion of the mission of the exhibition and the museum, one from conventional collecting, displaying and dissimilating of existing art works and related discourses, to making it a site of conception, production and presentation of the works, and a platform for public participation where dialogue between the art world and the society is realized.