Guests wore their Halloween best for a special afterhours party with DISCWOMAN spinning and Art and China after 1989: Theater of the World on view at Art After Dark.
In its space that is the architectural equivalent to ready, willing, and able, The Solomon R. Guggenheim building seems more than suitable for a Halloween-event. Hallowed by the prestige of its architect and the spiritual nature of its collection, the Guggenheim has always had a degree of haunted pensiveness. What might lurk around that corner, what’s down this way? Potent but inviting, Guggenheim extended an opportunity to its members with its seasonal Art After Dark program. This was the first “Halloween Edition”, centered on its special exhibition, Art and China after 1989: Theater of the World, an enormous (actually, the largest in the United States, ever) show presenting experimental works in a vast range of mediums by Chinese-born artists. With a bar and live music by Discwoman (which most definitely turned into dance party in the rotunda by 11pm), it was a very different way to experience the Guggenheim, but didn’t feel any less real.
Some words on the show: it’s explosive in scale and revealing of the Guggenheim’s flexible staging character (acceptance of works that don’t necessarily appear on canvas), Art and China after 1989 serves as a invitation into the world of Chinese art, often of extremely high-concept and high execution.
Art and China after 1989 is organized in six chronological, thematic sections throughout the rotunda and on Tower Levels 5 and 7. Although some works transcend the space; such as Chen Zhen’setal, inner tubes of bicycles, toy cars, fragments of bicycles, black acrylic paint, all suspended above the rotunda. It’s a piece you can interact with as you climb to the top; it maintains its own perspective as you change yours.
As we explored the Guggenheim in costume, it added a degree of wild humor and chaos; something not easily curated- nearly impossible. The audience for this event was as varied as the art, offering the costume as an art work in some way. Victorian looks, video game characters Mario and Luigi, ghosts, jellyfish and more filled the halls and crowded around the art in a rare way. Watching Chewbacca study Qiu Zhijie’s Map of “Art and China after 1989: Theater of the World,” 2017, or a witch examine Ai Weiwei’s Dropping a Han Dynasty Urn, 1995 is special, but also reveals that who looks at the art often doesn’t really matter or change the value of the work.
We look forward to the next Art After Dark event, and in the meantime, be sure to visit Art and China after 1989: Theater of the World, on view until January 7, 2018. We’ve included some photos snapped at the event by mobile street photographer Ilana Akoundi.
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum
1071 5th Avenue, NY, NY USA