March 28, 2017

Download After Art by David Joselit PDF

By David Joselit

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Visitors to Shanghai as late as the early 1990s often remarked about how little Shanghai had changed visually from its pre-1949 days, except to note that it was more run-down and that a large part of the glitter had gone. Before the early 1990s there was very little interest among the Shanghainese in the buildings they lived and worked in. B. A B B A S : P L AY I T A G A I N S H A N G H A I city, but they wear it down much more slowly than market forces. Even the worst excesses of the Cultural Revolution left many old buildings in Shanghai standing.

At the same time it also became one of the most important new sites for architectural production as demonstrated by numerous architectural projects and buildings. With unmitigated speed, glittering skyscrapers, elevated highways, and major cultural institutions radically rose from the rubble, dynamically transforming the city. The razing of Shanghai’s urban fabric that has taken place over the last ten years to allow for the restructuring of the city’s infrastructure and the creation of entirely new districts is reminiscent of the modernist tabula rasa approach to city planning.

Even the toilets are kept meticulously clean. The dirtier the streets around it, the cleaner the museum appears. Suddenly you realize that the museum does not think of itself as being part of a local space at all, but rather as part of a virtual, global, cultural network. The Shanghai Museum 52 SHANGHAI REFLECTIONS is not just where art works are being shown in Shanghai; it is also where Shanghai shows itself off, with its image cleaned up, in hopes that the world is looking. If preservation projects present us with the City as Museum, then the museum itself offers a complementary image—the Museum as (Idealized) City.

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