Sustainable Concepts

Sustainable Concepts

The Shanghai Project Chapter 2 exhibition Seeds of Time takes its title from the documentary of the same name, which shares the project’s call for action regarding climate change. Curated by Yongwoo Lee and Hans Ulrich Obrist, the show explores sustainability and highlights the possible solutions for environmental and social issues. A single chapter within ongoing investigations by Shanghai Project participants, Seeds of Time presents the work of Root Researcher interdisciplinary teams led by Bruno Latour, Sophia Al-Maria, Qiu Anxiong, Otobong Nkanga and Zhang Haimeng. Each of the five artists works within a different disciplinary framework.

Bruno Latour’s team, Reset Modernity! Shanghai Perspective, concentrates on a set of issues that modernity encounters at a time of deep ecological mutation. Led by Sophia Al-Maria, The Limerent Object combines video, dance and text in a series of offerings for future societies. Qiu Anxiong’s city-wide bus responds to science-fiction writer Ken Liu’s Shanghai in 48 Hours, a Weekend Itinerary for International Visitors by Roaming Planets Guides, 2116 and imagines what shape an underwater Shanghai may take in a century’s time. Meanwhille, Otobong Nkanga’s Landversation Shanghai and Zhang Haimeng’s Fast Forward Future both connect to our conception of land and the role of technology in the future.

In addition to the Root Researcher teams are the Chapter 2 Researchers. Part of the the research consortium is Diller Scofidio + Renfro’s EXIT which examines global human migratory conditions and causes. Liu Chuang engages with the research of Thomas Hartung and David Pamies to shed light on our efforts to find scientific solutions to environmental problems; and Li Naihan responds to the work of Leonardo da Vinci in Mind Palace – a virtual reality experience that explores the methods and practices of future polymaths. Yoko Ono’s long commitment to spreading peace is embodied in the performance Bells for Shanghai, sound installation We’re All Water and Wish Tree, while a homage to artist Gustav Metzger (1926–2017) demonstrates an anti-consumerist vision.

The documentary Seeds of Time is also shown alongside these artworks. The film follows Cary Fowler as he champions the creation of the world’s first global seed vault. Located in Norway, the Svalbard Global Seed Vault is a vital resource in the battle against the rapid loss of crop diversity. Organised by the Shanghai Himalayas Museum, co-organised by the Shanghai International Culture Association, with lead sponsors Envision Energy and Zendai Group, the Shanghai Project engages with audiences through an exhibition, publication and public programme over a period of 100 days.

Shanghai Project, Chapter 2 Envision 2116 Exhibition: Seeds of Time, until 30 July, Shanghai Himalayas Museum, Envision Pavilion and Zendai Zhujiajiao Art Museum, Shanghai.


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1. Gustav Metzger, Hotplate, 1968/2014. Photo: Kunsthall Oslo. Courtesy of the Shanghai Project.