The Grand Canal

Collateral Event of the 55th International Art Exhibition – la Biennale di Venezia

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Venue: Museo Diocesano, Sale Espositive, Castello 4312, 30122 Venezia (VE)
Catalogue: The Grand Canal

Both Venice in Italy and Yangzhou in China are cities that grew and flourished on the basis of water-borne trade, and the history of China and Italy is linked in more than one way by their ancient Grand Canals. In the 13th century, the Italian Marco Polo set sail from Venice, arrived in China after four years, and after returning wrote an account of his voyage which includes the Grand Canal from Beijing to Hangzhou, the longest and oldest extant manmade waterway in the world. In the Spring and Autumn Period (8th to 5th century BCE), the digging of the Han Conduit meant that the history of the Grand Canal would always be associated with the ancient city of Yangzhou. In 2006, 58 members of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference unanimously started the formal process of the Chinese Grand Canal Application for World Cultural Heritage Listing, and the Chinese Grand Canal Listing Office was established in Yangzhou. In March 2013, a Working Conference for the Chinese Grand Canal Heritage Listing Application was held in Yangzhou, and the Heritage Listing application started its countdown.
To tie in with the Declaration of the World Heritage Listing of the Chinese Grand Canal, and to raise awareness about it and its cultural heritage, the famous oil painter Xiao Feng initiated the execution of a series of “The Grand Canal” exhibitions to be planned by the Xiao Feng – Song Ren Art Center. This received the cooperation and support of the relevant government departments and organizations, thereby mobilizing forces of all sectors of the community towards the success in 2014 of the Chinese Grand Canal World Heritage Listing application.
The bias of this exhibition is towards pluralism and openness, and the selection of works is based on compatibility with the theme of the Exhibition. The twelve well-known Chinese artists were born between 1950 and 1990. They were invited to take part by independent curator and artist Ms Xiao Ge. The types of works exhibited include traditional Chinese painting, installations, video installations, performance art and contemporary art media.
The title of the 55th International Art Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia is “Il Palazzo Enciclopedico” (the Encyclopedic Palace) – with the aspiration of blending contemporary art with historical tradition in the manner of an encyclopedia.
The Grand Canal was dug precisely for such “encyclopaedic” reasons of politics, economics, as well cultural openness, exchanges and transmission. This is consistent with the open spirit of globalization today.
"The Grand Canal" as the exhibition title also includes a reference to the birth and development of Chinese contemporary art in the cities connected by the Grand Canal, and highlights the blending of contemporary art with historical tradition. It not only echoes the overall theme of the Biennale, but also highlights China’s social and historical ups and downs. The Grand Canal is a living heritage. It transmits the changing times and everflowing culture. This examination of the historical tradition of the Grand Canal through the perspective and manifestations of contemporary art gives the world a new understanding of the value of the existence of the Grand Canal, as well as of its longstanding cultural and practical significance.

Information about the Exhibition:
Curator: Xiao Ge
Artists: Bai Chongmin/Gao Jie/He Haoyuan/Huang Rui/Peng Xiaojia/Qiu Zhijie/Shi Qing/Wang Du/Irrelevent Committee/Xiao Lu/Xu Bing/Zhang Yanzi
Organization: Xiao Feng and Song Ren's Art Museum
Co-organization: National Youth Center of the Chinese Central Government Organs; Chinese Academy of Cultural Heritage; The West Lake Artists Association; China Grand Canal Application for World Heritage List Office in Yangzhou; People’s Government of Jiangdu District, Yangzhou City; YN Art; PDG Arte Communications
Assistant Curator: Archibald McKenzie
Commissioner: Paolo De Grandis
Coordinator in Venice: Carlotta Scarpa, Francesca Romana Greco, Roberto Rosolen - PDG Arte Communications
Exhibition planner: Sun Yue, Wei Xingyi, Feng Jiao
Design: Wu Weihe, Zhu Sha
Translate: Archibald Mckenzie/Wen Zai, Sun Yue, Luca Zordan, Lu Meng
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Ufficio stampa:

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© Sergio Martucci