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Exhibiting the 'marrow of Chinese culture'

By Zhang Zixuan (China Daily)

09:01, August 27, 2012

Palace in the Sky, an installation by Tao Na. She is the only female and the youngest participant among the five Chinese architects and artists at the Venice Architecture Biennale this year. (Provided to China Daily)

Cutting-edge contemporary Chinese architectural art is featured at the China Pavilion of the Venice Architecture Biennale, Zhang Zixuan reports in Beijing.

The China Pavilion is ready to wow international audiences with its minimalism and traditional philosophy at the upcoming 13th International Architecture Exhibition (Venice Architecture Biennale), held from Aug 29 to Nov 25 in Venice, Italy.

Directed by British architect David Chipperfield, this year's architecture biennale is themed "Common ground".

"The emphasis ... is on what we have in common," explains Chipperfield. "Above all, the ambition of common ground is to reassert the existence of an architectural culture, made up not just of singular talents but a rich continuity of diverse ideas united in a common history, common ambitions, common predicaments and ideals. In architecture everything begins with the ground. It is our physical datum, where we make the first mark, digging the foundations that will support our shelter."

To echo this theme, the China Pavilion is presenting the concept of "Originaire", which combines the meanings of "original" and "initial".

"We seek the origin of memory and the origin of the world," says China Pavilion curator Fang Zhenning, adding that Originaire is the extension of common ground in both the spiritual and material fields.

The five chosen Chinese architects and artists will all present installations, offering poetic interpretations by using traditional Chinese abstract thinking and philosophy.

The image of lighting artist Xu Dongliang's installation is rendered biggest on posters for China Pavilion, attracting a lot of attention. And so is the actual work positioned at the entrance of the oil tank warehouse at Arsenale venue, one part of the assigned space for China Pavilion.

The 3-meter-tall lighting device is made of LED circuit boards producing more than 30,000 red light spots. Xu calls it Lightopia - a lighting utopia.

"I created a new word to name my work. That fits the spirit of Originaire," Xu says, adding that the light tower can change the brightness of its light, like fire, which could be associated with the origin of human beings.

Meanwhile, light has a special meaning for Xu. His name, "Dongliang" means "lighting in the East" and indicates his birth at sunrise.

"So using light is like a quest for my own origin," he explains.

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