This October, the 9th Shanghai Biennale will inaugurate the Shanghai Contemporary Art Museum, on what was formerly the site of the Nanshi Power Plant. In keeping with the location, the theme of the biennale will be Reactivation, with an emphasis on the rethinking the ways Energy is collected and expended. As the exhibition statement reminds us, “Energy is born out of a collective”:
The idea behind “Reactivation” is not relocating a power plant to a place far away from the city, or generating power with renewable energy. Rather, it is an opportunity for us to think about how we live. When the site of the power plant becomes alive again, it doesn’t generate any power in the traditional sense. Instead, it creates spiritual pulses that would activate the inherent energy within a community.
Almost as thought-provoking as this idea was this week’s announcement that Chief Curator artist Qiu Zhijie will work together with Boris Groys, Jens Hoffmann and Johnson Chang. While the last has experience with the Chinese scene as a professor at the Chinese Academy of Art in Hangzhou, Groys and Hoffmann are both veterans to the international biennale scene. Currently overseeing the Wattis Institute in San Francisco, Hoffmann is no stranger to working collectively, having collaborated with Harold Fletcher on the People’s Biennial in 2010 and with Adriano Pedrosa on last year’s Istanbul Biennial. Groys, meanwhile, was last seen as the curator of the Russian Pavillion in the Venice Biennale, a project which later traveled to New York.