The Garden of Diversion

November 2, 2013 – March 2, 2014
Sifang art Museum, Nanjing, China, 2013

Installation view of The Garden of Diversion, Sifang art Museum, Nanjing, China, 2013
Photo: Li Jingxiong

On November 2nd, Nanjing’s Sifang Art Museum, situated in the lush landscape of the Foshou Lake in Pukou district, will debut its opening exhibition: The Garden of Diversion.The opening exhibition is curated by renowned art historian and curator, the new director of Staedelschule and Portikus Frankfurt, Philippe Pirotte.

The artworks assembled for the first exhibition-project of the Sifang Art Museum share a consciousness that their spatial and social relationships aren’t necessarily bound up in the self-contained art object, but that their gestures are integrated within larger spaces or social realms. Reconsidering the utopian tradition of philosophical gardens in China, the exhibition connects a variety of subjectmatter. The museum, with its oblique walls and unexpected vistas, and the installed artworks, both in content and in their formal structure, challenge the conception of space in visual and social terms. Emphasizing what must be experienced rather than merely seen, and actively engaging each visitor, they suggest an alteration of temporal and spatial conditions of the exhibition rooms and the outside gardens. Each of these works use the strategies, actions or materials to radically alter reality and transform the environment, offering deviations, detours, distraction, amusement and disturbances. The Garden of Diversion, in sometimes-perverse ways, connects the utopian with what we would consider the “real world,” though we never really seem to grasp what that might be.  The Garden of Diversion fully embraces our living in multiple realities, in which the meaning of history, its memory and monuments, or the place of the body, hedonism and sexuality, gets blurred.

The exhibition will include works made especially for the occasion by acclaimed Chinese and international artists such as He An, Gabriel Lester and MadeIn Company, Xu Zhen, and emerging Nanjing-based artist Li Jingxiong. Next to these site-specific works, the exhibition features works by important international artists like Olafur Eliasson, Liang Wei, Yutaka Sone, and Danh Vo. The exhibition also features significant works by a.o. Duang Jianyu, Marlene Dumas, Kan Xuan, Anselm Kiefer, Mao Yan, Zhang Peili, Lucy Raven, Sun Xun, Luc Tuymans, Yang Fudong, Zhang Enli, and Zhou Chunya.