Art as rehearsal at Shanghai Biennale

15:32, November 09, 2010      

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Viewers peruse works at Shanghai Art Museum, part of the ongoing Shanghai Biennale. (Xinhua/Dong Hongjing)

Contrary to expectations, the Shanghai Biennale, the city's largest celebration of contemporary art, is attracting huge crowds.

On weekends, visitors sometimes have to wait for up to 20 minutes before being admitted into the exhibition hall of Shanghai Art Museum, located in the heart of the city on People's Square.

The art festival's eighth edition, which opened on Oct 23, explores the mechanics of artistic creations. Titled Rehearsal, it will run till the end of January.

"We thought Shanghai audiences would be experiencing visual fatigue after the World Expo," says a staff member of Shanghai Art Museum, who asked to stay anonymous. "The theme of the biennale is also quite academic and we believed this too would keep away many people."

But the reality is turning out to be quite different. On one recent weekend, more than 6,000 people visited the biennale, four times the number of visitors on any other day.

This year, organizers want to draw art lovers' attention away from paintings, installations and videos and toward the working process of their creations, according to Gao Shiming, one of the three curators of the biennale.

Unlike past sessions, all three curators are from China, with the other two being Fan Di'an, director of National Art Museum of China, and Li Lei, executive director of Shanghai Art Museum.

The event features 47 artists (or artists' groups) from 21 countries and regions, including movie directors such as Wang Xiaoshuai and Tsai Ming-liang.

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