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‘Wild Cinema’ blazes new trail in art world
From:Shanghai Daily  |  2020-07-04 04:29

A daring installation in the shape of a cream bar along with a 10-meter-long dinosaur greets visitors at the entrance of “Wild Cinema,” a group exhibition from the iag contemporary art house at TX Huaihai/Youth Energy Center in downtown Shanghai.

In a bid to present a new kind of local art community, 22 Chinese and foreign artists “de-commercialize” the retail mall through various immersive works of art.

Visitors are invited to engage in the large-scale installations and real-time interactive projects in the mall’s commercial area.

For David Chau, one of the initiators of iag contemporary art house and founder of ART021 and Cc Foundation, “it is a new form of art that breaks through the framework of tradition and broadens the boundaries of contemporary art.”

On the second floor of TX Huaihai, visitors are guided to Cc Art Museum, featuring 17 artworks from a cluster of big names, including Anish Kappor, Andreas Gursky, Damien Hirst and Zeng Fanshi.

“Cc Art Museum doesn’t represent a traditional art museum; it is a piece of artwork at ‘Wild Cinema’” said Chau. “It only exists in commercial space, mocking the relationship between conventional art museums and galleries in China.”

The most ignored work at the exhibition is “Bud Lite” created by Danh Vo, a Vietnamese-American artist. The work was indeed thrown away by cleaners at its previous exhibitions.

Another exhibit, “XU ZHEN Supermarket,” was created by Chinese artist Xu Zhen. Resembling a small supermarket, its shelves are stocked with empty packages sold for the same price as regular products. Every item sold in XU ZHEN Supermarket is empty, yet the packages remain intact, subverting people’s everyday experience and imagination.

KUKU, a gift shop with art derivatives by Xu Zhen, Takashi Murakami and several European designers and artists, is another highlight.

“The most accessible art for ordinary people isn’t art they pay admission to see but art they can take home,” Chau said.

In a bid to fuse art education, art communities, art IP, art retail and art public relations, Chau has a bigger vision for iag.

“In the future, iag will show up at many different kinds of venues,” he said. “Its consumption model is similar to Disneyland where visitors are able to enjoy exhibitions, dining and shopping in the same place.”

Born in Shanghai, Chau grew up in Hong Kong and Vancouver and graduated with degrees in art history and international relations from the University of British Columbia.

He studied under the tutelage of prominent scholars such as Tsao Hsingyuan and James Cahill, which eventually led him into the art industry.

Founder of Metropolis International Leasing, one of China’s largest fleet-management companies, Chau dabbled in other industries, including finance and real estate, and invested in multiple Internet startups. He began collecting art in 2003 and gradually expanded his collection while engaging with the art world and supporting new galleries.

Q: When did you start to prepare for the “Wild Cinema” exhibition?

A: It was early last August that I proposed the idea of a contemporary art house. The new commercial model aims to change the retail business environment. Our exhibition isn’t merely an art decoration inside a shopping mall, but more of a tool used to merge into urban life. It is similar to the promotion and marketing of cinema line.

Q: This is iag’s first project. How does it occupy TX Huaihai?

A: Currently, we use two floors in the building as the main exhibition venue, and there will be art scattered around every floor because every store in the building has something artistic in it.

Meanwhile, we have our own brand, KUKU, that transforms the visual experience of the exhibition into marketing ideas, such as products, activities and outreach events.

Q: How does it differ from a gallery or museum show? Are you optimistic about its development?

A: I think it’s more flexible and open, different from exhibitions in galleries or museums that focus on the academic effect. Ours caters more to young people based on their art consumption habits.

I’m an adventurous person, but that doesn’t mean what I am doing is risky. This may be a model that has never been attempted before; but when I decide to do something I must have a clear picture of all the financial details. That’s why I always have a good chance of success.

Q: What is the financial model for the iag contemporary art house? How long will it take for this project to be profitable?

A: This is a big project, so I have to pay attention to cash flow, net profit and expansion. For example, the admission fee not only allows visitors to see the exhibits, but also enables them to avoid standing in line at wanghong stores (popular via online marketing). Additionally, they receive a 10 to 20 percent discount at every store.

The entire complex is no longer just a retail mall but an artistic, commercial amusement park. Actually, I received several cooperative offerings from real estate developers, and I can assure you iag will be seen in more places.

We will be profitable in the first or second year based on our projections.

Q: In a fast-paced consumer era, why are you so confident the younger generation will buy the iag concept?

A: Because we are not doing traditional exhibitions — displaying and selling art. Our product is teaching people how to act invincible.

Date: Through August 31, 11am-10pm

Tickets: 98 yuan

Venue: TX Huaihai/Youth Energy Center

Address: 523 Huaihai Road M.