As universally recognised, a successful art exhibition is more than simply displaying the artworks. Success comes with the expectation to establish a dialogue with the artists. In China, there is the added layer of meaning to position the art as a part of the urban modernisation. In other words, public artwork should be integrated into the city and daily life, in order for the art not to be excluded from the overall urban design and considered just as a mere decor embellishment.

In the case of the Shanghai Jin’An international Sculpture Exhibition for example, the artists, through their original and personal artistic language, expressed their perception and interpretation of the city and its relevant issues. Public art within the city embodies a cultural relationship by promoting exchange and communication between people and by creating a connection between the artwork, community, the environment and nature. The previous themes of the Shanghai Jin’An international Sculpture Exhibition has been “Illusionary City” in 2012, “The light of the City” in 2012, “City as Home” in 2014. All these themes are associated and bring reflection about the topics of people, dreams and creativity. Dream and Creativity.

To integrate public art within the urban landscape, it is necessary to take into account the local cultural specifics. Therefore it is crucial to establish a connection between the space and local art. In 2012 for the first Xinjiang Biannual Contemporary Art Exhibition, besides inviting artists such as Cao Guoqiang and Xu Bing, local artists were also invited to participate. Xinjiang not only plays a key role within the cultural arena of Western China, it also plays a leading role in the cultural exchange between China and Central Asia. Therefore, the Xinjiang Biannual Contemporary Art Exhibition must establish its own cultural identity, emphasising its modernisation, local customs and traditions. Without the participation of artists with the local cultural background, the biannual exhibition would have become another difficult “cookie cutter” scenario, defeating its intended purpose.

To create a public culture for the city, the scientific approach to management becomes very important. Coincidentally, this is an area that faces some challenges. More than overcoming existing institutional barriers of the system, how to incorporate a scientific management system within art organisations is a far more urgent matter.

The matter of fact is that we still face a huge gap in comparison with Western national museums or art galleries. Our gap lies not in the hardware, but in the software, which manifests itself in the management system. The critical issue now becomes establishing an efficient and comprehensive management system for national museums and art galleries. The system would include curatorial system, archive system, education training and publishing. To establish a scientific management system will help the anticipated cultural goals, which is in line with current strategy for national cultural development and also competitive advantage between international cultural exchanges.

Interviewed and Edited by Hao Hong

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