13th Shanghai Biennale reaches a climax at Power Station of Art
The final phase of the 13th Shanghai Biennale culminates with a mammoth show examining our entanglement with climates, ecosystems and technologies
The 13th Shanghai Biennale has unveiled its ultimate exhibition, ‘Bodies of Water’, featuring 64 participating artists and 33 new commissions.
The biennial kicked off in November 2020 with ‘Phase 01: *A* Wet-run Rehearsal’, a five-day inaugural programme, followed by ‘Phase 02: An Ecosystem Of Alliances’, five months of activity and programming. This staggered approach enabled artists, thinkers and curators involved in the biennal to develop their work in close collaboration with the City of Shanghai, its people, networks of activism, organisations, and institutions.
Launched in 1996 as the first international biennial of contemporary art in mainland China, the event sets Shanghai as its primary locus, while positioning itself as a hub for global contemporary art exchange.
The 13th edition is seeking to shake up the traditional biennial format and explore the participant-public divide. Unravelling over nine months, the ‘in crescendo’ event reaches a climax with ‘Bodies of Water’, an exhibition dissecting how climates, ecosystems, technologies, and life in all its forms are inextricably interconnected.
In line with the biennial’s ethos, ‘Bodies of Water’ will be in dialogue with the history, geography and vernacular of Shanghai. Unfolding across other locations in the city, including the historic Sunke Villa, the event will begin at the Power Station of Art (PSA), China’s first state-run contemporary art museum and a venue with an intriguing past life as a former coal-electric plant that fuelled the industrialisation of the Huangpu River.
In harmony with the themes of Earth Day (22 April 2021), participating artists and collectives present artworks that negotiate our entanglement in extended ecosystems of interdependency. A significant number of these works, 33 in total, have been commissioned and conceived for the space. Featured artists include Joan Jonas, Pan Daijing, Diakron and Emil Rønn Andersen, Torkwase Dyson, Tabita Rézaire, Jenna Sutela, Carlos Irijalba and Cecilia Vicuña.
‘The 13th Shanghai Biennale advocates for the momentous contribution that art plays in the reconstruction of a world shaped by environmental, social and political distress. The Biennale is sensitive to the way art constitutes and infiltrates life itself, and to its capacities for bodied reparation, transformation and dissidence,’ says chief curator Andrés Jaque.
‘Bodies of Water’ urges viewers to examine living collectivity at a time when the Earth is facing unprecedented challenges, from the swelling climate crisis to the ongoing global pandemic. §