About Intrude Art & Life 366 and the Zendai MoMA

Zendai Museum of Modern Art invites you to Intrude: Art & Life 366 in Shanghai. Intrude: Art & Life 366 is an unprecedented event in the city of Shanghai. Starting January 1, 2008 and ending on December 31, 2008, Zendai MoMA will present a cultural event to the people of Shanghai every single day of the year. This cross-cultural and interdisciplinary project is called Intrude: Art & Life 366 and aims to intervene in people’s daily lives, engage them to take part in art happenings and stimulate the public debate on art. An event of this scale and influence has never taken place in China before.

Curated by the director of the Zendai MoMA, Mr. Shen Qibin, Intrude: Art & Life 366 is a interdisciplinary project that connects culture and daily life in many forms and through different media. With a total of 366 events happening throughout the year, the events will be very diverse and will come from different cultural fields — exhibitions, site-specific installations, performances, concerts, film screenings, debates, etc. In order to present their work differently, artists will explore new concepts and venture out into the public sphere

Intrude: Art & Life 366 will present 366 different cultural events, taking place in public and private venues like parks, gardens, squares, shopping areas, etc. 100 Chinese and 266 international artists will participate, including local and internationally well-known artists and curators like Gu Wenda, Wang Jianwei, Yang Fudong, Xu Zhen, etc. There will also be collaborations with local and foreign institutions like the National Acadamy of Art in Hangzhou, the Centre for Contemporary Art & Politics, College of Fine Arts University of New South Wales in Australia, Institut pour la Ville-en-Mouvement in Paris etc.

Intrude: Art & Life 366 was created as a long-term project, continuing beyond the 366 days of events. All of the events will be methodically archived and will be presented in the future as international touring exhibitions. In addition, Zendai MoMA will regularly publish catalogues with scholarly essays on the projects and related ideas and issues, and magazines to inform people on the progress of the project.

ABOUT Zendai MoMA - Founded in 2005 and located in Pudong New Area in Shanghai, Zendai MoMA exhibits and collects innovative contemporary art from China and around the world. Zendai MoMA’s diverse program covers a broad spectrum of cultural activities, including film screenings, talks and educational events, theatre and music performances, and exhibiting visual and new media arts. The museum facilities include 4 galleries, a classroom, a gift shop/bookshop and a cafĂ©. Covering 3000m2, and located in one of the fastest-developing areas of Shanghai, Zendai MoMA functions as a bridge between the local and international community, connecting both to the world of arts.

Eye to Eye project Summary

This project was created specifically with the intentions of Intrude 366 in mind and took place on Dec. 18, 2008 in Thumb Plaza in front of the Zendai Museum in Shanghai, China.

“Eye to Eye” is a North American expression that means two individuals (or groups) agree to acknowledge each other’s viewpoints. It is a courageous act to see “Eye to Eye”. It
causes one to open oneself to the possibility of new thinking. It is a step towards standing on common ground and arriving at mutual understanding In this time of cross cultural exchange, it is more important than ever that this concept of seeing “Eye to Eye” be promoted.

For Intrude 366, four American artists using the simplest of means, and drawing on over 2000 years of Eastern and Western art history, will construct a strand
comprised of 734 visual representations of eyes sourced from centuries of evolving culture. (366 on front and 366 on back)
In “Eye to I”, we will use standard 4.25 inch long shipping tags as surfaces. Onto the front and backside of each tag’s surface we will print or paint image of eyes culled from the canons of art history: From anonymous portraits painted in 3rd century c.e. Central Asian cave paintings to the expressive eyes of Picasso’s Les Demoiselles d’Avignon, to the stylized eyes of
Warhol’s celebrities, and to the piercing eyes of Frida Kahlo’s self-portraits, each of the participating artists will select eye imagery, enlarge them to fit the each side of a standard tag and transfer them to the surfaces using traditional and non-traditional painting and printing techniques
such as linoleum block prints and Xerox transfers. Strong visual impact and unity will be produced through the use of the standard surface and by maintaining a restricted palette of
blacks, reds, and golds. Each tag will have one Eastern eye and one Western eye - adding another layer of the original concept of Eye to Eye. The resulting Eye to Eye strand will be held out at chest level with one of the participating artists holding the first tag at one end and a partner artist based in Shanghai holding the first tag at the other end. This will result in approximately meters of these historic images being exhibited. Once the entire strand is on display, pedestrians will be invited to cut a tag from either end.

As this performance takes place the three accompanying artists will be documenting the performance through video and photography and inviting the public to participate, facilitating the cutting away.

Each cut tag that people take away will serve as a talisman towards seeing eye to eye. With each tag that is cut, the two representatives from the East and the West will take one
step closer to each other. When all 366 tags have been cut and given away, the two artists will stand firmly and confidently, physically and emotionally: Eye to Eye.

In Summary, the Eye to Eye project collapses the past with the future. It places us in the present to combine images that may be obscure with images that have saturated contemporary culture. Eye to Eye underscores the commonality between East and West.

Using the simplest of means, Eye to Eye offers profound possibility for forging a rich collaborative cultural vision for the future.


Sunday, January 11, 2009

Liz Coppens, Intrude Project Coordinator at the Curatorial Dept. of Zendai MoMA

Change of Art
(China Daily by Ida Relsted February 1, 2008)

Liesbeth Coppens is in her second year in Shanghai sharing her expertise in contemporary Chinese art. Not only does the 1.8 m tall blonde Belgian literally stand out from the crowd, she is also the only foreigner among 39 locals working at Shanghai Zendai Museum of Modern Art.

When she landed the job as curator, Coppens joined an exclusive group of foreigners who, as a profession, help the world understand new Chinese art.

For Coppens, who has a degree in Art History and Cultural Anthropology, moving to Shanghai has proven an ideal way to combine her two interests: art and culture.

"In Belgium, knowledge about contemporary Chinese art was hard to come by, so I was naturally curious before moving to China," Coppens says.

"Also, I knew I wanted to move to a foreign country when I graduated from university. I have always loved to travel and experience new cultures."

Coppens had friends in both Beijing and Shanghai. When she got the chance in March 2005 to work at 198 Artspace, a private gallery in Shanghai's famed Moganshan Road art district, Coppens could hardly believe her luck. Unfortunately, it soon turned out that the commercial approach needed in a gallery was not the way to go for Coppens.

After nine months in the private art gallery, Coppens decided to move back to Belgium. However, soon after arriving home she realized it had been a mistake to leave China because she still had more to discover.

"I was simply not finished with China," she says.

So Coppens came back to Shanghai. This time she landed her dream job: Project Coordinator at the Curatorial Department of Zendai MoMA. And although Coppens, as the lone Westerner at the museum, is challenged daily on how business is run, she is at ease when she shows China Daily around the large white spaces of the museum.

"I find myself to be a curious person, and I am very fortunate to be here," says Coppens.

Zendai Museum of Modern Art is located in the Zendai Thumb Plaza in the Pudong District of Shanghai. The 3,000 sq m museum building has recently expanded its exhibition space and offices for extra employees.

Zendai MoMA currently exhibits the sculpture piece LOVE by American artist Robert Indiana, as well as works from contemporary Chinese artists.

According to Coppens, the aim is to both help build a native modern arts culture, and to develop a dialogue with the international arts scene.

"At the museum we seek to bring the standard of China's contemporary art academia in line with the country's rate of development," Coppens says.

Last fall, Coppens visited the Asian Contemporary Art Fair in New York City, where she found that the world's focus on Asian art, specifically from China, is increasing. However, Coppens says that much of this interest is hype, which is pushing up art prices.

"Of course I understand why, from a personal perspective, the 25-26 year old Chinese artists who are barely out of school and already selling paintings for $10,000 wish to keep business going," she says.

"At the same time, I do find some of the immense focus on Chinese contemporary art to be more hype than justified interest."

Coppens adds that judging by the catalogues of some young artists, she found that they either repeat themselves or reproduce Western modern art ideals instead of being innovative.

However, while Coppens is critical of some contemporary Chinese art, she remains passionate about the work on display at Zendai MoMA.

One of the projects Coppens is most excited about was launched in Shanghai's cityscape at the beginning of the year.

"We want art to become part of people's everyday life."

Therefore Zendai MoMA has launched the project 366 Days of Artistic Intrusion. During the year-long event, one new artwork or art performance can be found in Shanghai every day.

"Our goal is to make one cultural headline a day," says Coppens about the exhibition's slogan "Making the ordinary extraordinary, the mundane spectacular".

The 366 events will be created by 100 Chinese and 266 international artists or artistic groups, and will involve cooperation with local and international organizations such as the China Academy of Art in Hangzhou, College of Fine Arts of the University of New South Wales in Australia, and Institut pour la Ville-en-Mouvement in France. The Zendai Museum of Modern Art is inviting artists, galleries, museums, curators and performers to participate in the ambitious project.

Liesbeth Coppens says her work in Shanghai is an ideal way to satisfy her interests in art and culture. Photos by Gao Erqiang

For Coppens living in a foreign country has proved very different to traveling through it. "I am actively and constantly trying to understand the Chinese," says Coppens who found her work with local colleagues to be enlightening.

"I don't live in the bubble of a typical expatriate life, but on the other hand I am not one of the foreigners here who are always totally pro everything Chinese."

One of the downsides to not living a typical expatriate life is obvious to Coppens when sees other young foreigners at bars and clubs: "These people spend half of my salary on a night out."

"People can't believe that I initially came to China on my own and without a job."

Coppens is used to not fitting in, however she does admit that sometimes she runs a little short on patience.

"Although there is a sweet innocence to it too, some days it does make me feel like a monkey in a zoo when people come up to me to measure how much taller I am than them.

"Getting angry, however, is a waste of time. Because I am a guest in their country, and it is my own choice to be here."

Since Coppens moved to Shanghai, she says her new mantra has become: "Chaos has its own rules."

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