Memory and Contemporaneity
China Art Today
The exhibition Memory and Contemporaneity promoted by The Palace Museum of Beijing, presented at the 57th Venice Biennale as a collateral event, is a reflection on a terrible accident: the fire that spread, on the 4th April, across the cargo ship MSC Daniela, just opposite Sri Lanka, and which tragically interrupted the journey of the 52 works of 17 artists it carried, all of them due to be exhibited the same year.
The curators of the exhibition decided to undertake “an adventure”, going forward with the event, renaming it “Memory and Contemporaneity, maintaining intact the first two sections of the exhibition’s itinerary (which survived the fire), and transforming the third, originally meant to host the works themselves, into a provocative meditation on their absence.
The first section is conceived as a “prologue” that consists of a total immersion into the works and installations of the treasures in Beijing’s Forbidden City. The second is designed as a “dialogue” between the bequest of Chinese culture as interpreted by masters of Italian design, such as Antonio Citterio, Michele De Lucchi, Piero Lissoni and contemporaneity, retold in the third section through 17 short films shot in the Chinese artists’ workshops as they create their works.
The itinerary continues following the path of a symbolic realization of the event, an etymological manual of it, where words like “fate, accident, and human” become an integral part of the set-up.
CamuffoLab created the exhibition’s imagery using moving solid objects as a call-back to the lost containers.