China Contemporary: Architecture, Art, and Visual Culture


A trio of museums in Rotterdam are currently exploring this theme of contemporary creative culture in China with three interrelated exhibitions on Architecture, Art and Photography. Nederlands Architecture Institute (NAI), Museum Boijmans van Beuningen, Nederlands Fotomuseum. The explosion of industry and commerce in China over the last few years has gripped the West’s attention. Some are gripped by fear, some by fascination, but whichever way you look at it China is very big, and growing fast; the industrial revolution going on over there cannot be ignored. But what about the creative revolution? Change and creation go hand in hand, so one would expect that with the pace of change in China right now there must be a great deal of creativity energy brewing. These shows are examining, through carefully selected works, how young creative talents are expressing themselves in their various mediums; how they are influenced by and how they may be influencing the "new" China. Only having time to see the NAI show I was impressed with the selection of work being shown. Avoiding the enormous homogenous development going on across China, this show focuses on small studios doing creative one-off building projects. With a great respect for traditional forms and natural materials, but using innovative techniques and a minimalist style, these young guns are creating a new and distinctive Chinese architecture for the 21st century. I also enjoyed the monumental exhibition design, which with its towering columns of images evokes a dense urban landscape and gives some sense of both the conceptually and literally enormous scale of the subject.