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Thematic Exhibition of The 10th Shanghai Biennale

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Black Face, White Face, 2014 © Courtesy of the Artist and Power Station of Art
Thematic Exhibition of The 10th Shanghai Biennale

200 Huayuan Gang Road
Huangpu District
Shanghai
CN
November 23rd, 2014 - March 31st, 2015

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http://powerstationofart.org
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beijing
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powerstationofart@126.com
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Tue-Sun 9-5 (last admission: 4pm)

DESCRIPTION
[Fiction] is the one and only way to transcend worldly life...Since we are in contact with fiction everyday, its quality affects us just as the air we breathe and the food we eat; if the air is polluted or the food contaminated, those who live in this environment will certainly languish, fall sick, meet with tragic death, or fall into moral degeneration.
 
Liang Qichao, On the Relationship between Fiction and the Governance of the People (1902)
 
 
In 2014, for the second time, China’s foremost state-run institution of contemporary art – Power Station of Art – hosts the Shanghai Biennale, in its converted power plant space.
 
Entitled “Social Factory”, the 10th Biennale asks what characterizes the production of the social, and how “social facts” are constituted. A recurring point of reference is the year 1978, acknowledged as a turning point in the recent history of modernity. 1978 was also the year in which Deng Xiaoping, who was to become China’s most influential Leader in the following decades, initiated his landmark socio-economic Reform and Opening, re-invoking Mao Zedong’s 1938 exhortation to “seek truth from facts”– a practice that sought to separate accounts of objective reality from subjective imagination. “Social Factory” contrasts this principle with the call to use fiction as a means of social reform, made by earlier seminal Chinese modernizers, like scholar and journalist Liang Qichao, and China’s seminal social critic and writer Lu Xun, who wrote The Story of Ah Q, Diary of a Madman, among others.
 
In this vein, the Biennale explores an interlocking set of questions: What is the relationship between the social and the fictive in the construction and re-construction of society? How has the production of the social changed throughout 20th century modernity? Has the production of the social entered a new phase with the massive influx of “sociometric” technologies, the extraction of data and digital profiling, and the increasing automatization of social processes in algorithms? And does China's pre-modern history of social systematization through unparalleled bureaucratic machinery and archiving capabilities echo in the country’s current processes of social fabrication? How can we grasp the simultaneous impact of history and that of technology on subjectification today? And how does the general process of acceleration and diversification of subjectification play out in the case of China and its current era of social reconstruction?
 
The “social” is produced by developing the human capacity to relate, through care, affection and education. The process encompasses the creation of symbols, abstract images and conceptual generalizations, which goes hand in hand with the formation of institutions and material culture. It also includes the constitution of a particular economy of signs, their “animated” and ambiguous relations to functions, meanings and things. Due to this complex genealogy, “social facts” can never be entirely known; they remain partially implicit, situated between the actual and the potential.
 
In modernity, this ambiguity of the social, and the possibility to plan and engineer society that hinges on it, has been a matter of ongoing contestation. Bureaucratic procedures, surveys, statistics, and concepts of identity have variously sought to reduce the complexity of the “social hieroglyph” (James C. Scott), in order to separate the meaningful from the meaningless or legible “signals” from “noise”. Drawing on both contemporary and historical works, as well as music and cinema, the 10th Shanghai Biennale presents art works that call such separation, and its historical productivity, into question.
 
Chief curator: Anselm Franke
Co-curators: Freya Chou, Cosmin Costinas, Liu Xiao
Curator for the Film program: Hila peleg
Curator for the Music Program: Nicholas Bussmann
“其(小说)为用之易感人也又如此……既已如空气如菽粟,欲避不得避,欲屏不得屏,而日日相与呼吸之餐嚼之矣。于此其空气而苟含有秽质也,其菽粟而苟含有毒性也,则其人之食息于此间者,必憔悴,必萎病,必惨死,必堕落。”
 
                                       ——梁启超,《论小说与群治之关系》(1902)
 
2014年,上海当代艺术博物馆——中国最重要的公立当代美术馆,前身为南市发电厂——即将第二次举办上海双年展。
 
本届双年展的主题为“社会工厂”,旨在探究“社会性的生产”特点和“社会事实”的组成要素。展览将回溯1978年这一历史参照点,这同时也是中 国步入现代化的转折点。1978年,即将担任中国最高国家领导人的邓小平(1904-1997)宣布实行改革开放政策,重新确立“实事求是”的思想指导原 则。此前毛泽东曾告诫党内,要以“实事求是”的态度区分对待客观事实与主观想象。“社会工厂”将响应中国一些先驱级、重量级现代改革家的号召,以文学虚构 手法作为社会改革的手段,代表人物包括政治评论家梁启超及中国最著名的社会批评家——着有《阿Q正传》和《狂人日记》的作家鲁迅。
 
在此脉络下,本届双年展将探讨一系列相互关联的问题:在构建和重构社会的过程中,社会性与文学虚构之间存在何种关系?随着20世纪的现代化进 程,社会性的生产发生了什么变化?随着“社会测量”技术的大范围使用、数据抽取和数码分析的盛行、以及社会进程日趋像电脑算法一般自动推演,社会性的生产 是否进入了一个全新的阶段?近现代之前,中国建立起无以类比的管理体系和档案管理制度,实现了社会的系统化;而这种历史遗产是否会影响当下社会的构建进 程?我们该如何解读历史和技术对主体化产生的双重冲击?在社会重构的大背景下,中国是否也会像其他国家一样,迎来主体化的加速和多元化发展?
 
所谓“社会性的生产”,就是要通过关爱、情感和教育来培养人们感同身受的能力。“社会性的生产”包括生产各种符号、抽象图像和概念性泛化结论, 它与体系构建及物质文化的创造同步进行。此外,它还包括由生产出的各种符号组成的一种特殊经济体、符号与功能、意义及事物其间“鲜活”而又模糊的关系。正 是因为这种复杂交错的渊源,“社会事实”处在实际与可能性之间的灰色地带,总是若隐若现,永远不可能被人们完全参透。
 
在现代性之中,社会性模棱两可的特点,以及我们能否规划并改造、建立在这种模糊性中的社会,成了人们争论不休的话题。人们通过建立管理体系、展 开调查和统计数据提出各种身份概念,试图多管齐下地减少“社会象形符号”(James C. Scott)的复杂性,并试图将有意义的符号与无意义的符号区分开,把可读的“信号”从“噪音”中剥离出来。第十届上海双年展便是在此脉络下展开,重点呈 现当代和历史作品及音乐和电影艺术,质疑这种分离的表现及其历史性的生产力。
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