What Fuels My Passion – My First Visit to UCCA (Finally)
Every once in a while I have an experience that reminds me why I want to work for arts clients. My visit to the Ullens Center for Contemporary Art (UCCA) on an unusual Friday off was one of them. Most of the works in the current exhibition made me smile, some made me nearly cry, and even fewer made me grimace. Overall, this art center is a reminder of the positive effects of globalization and art’s vital role in society.
UCCA is considered China’s first nonprofit art organization. Its founders and some of its upper management are foreign, but almost all the art is Chinese, and all of it is contemporary. It’s the only organization in Beijing’s 798 Art Zone to charge admission, but every Thursday is free, and I went during the end of a period about two weeks long of free admission every day in celebration of the Olympics. The bulk of the current work comes from the personal collection of Guy and Myriam Ullens, the center’s founders. Most of its art is from really famous artists, so it inspires to me to see this work available for viewing and experiencing in such a publicly accessible way.
I almost had a heart attack when I discovered “Bloodline Series – Family Portrait 1” by Zhang Xiaogang tucked away in the main exhibition room’s corner. This series will probably be as famous as Andy Warhol’s portraits someday, if it isn’t already. Unlike most of the other fragile work by famous artists at UCCA, it was hung at eye level, making it vulnerable to vandalism, both unintentional and intentional.
I maintain that because Chinese people like to touch visual art much more than I’m used to, good artists who create art for Chinese visitors make it interactive. To enter the exhibition, visitors go through “Space Time Tunnel” by Wang Du, the same artist who created “International Kebab,” my favorite exhibition I’ve seen in 798. Its entrance contains a claustrophobia disclaimer with directions to an alternate entrance. One of my favorite Chinese artists, Cao Fei, made a Second Life world called “RMB City” that is a futuristic combination of famous buildings in all Chinese cities that visitors can explore on a computer.
UCCA may also be one of the best places in Beijing for tourists to shop. I wish I could buy all my postcards there, but alas, they are quite pricey: 10元 (currently about $1.50) each. I may reserve UCCA postcards for family members.
Have you ever had an experience with art that inspired you personally or professionally? Please tell!
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