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Ma Yansong with 180 questions in the “Ma Yansong: Landscapes in Motion” exhibition to delve into the future of cities

Ma Yansong: Landscapes in Motion
Architecture & Design
Open to public
Shenzhen Museum of Contemporary Art and Urban Planning
29 September - 17 December 2023
Shenzhen Museum of Contemporary Art and Urban Planning, Ground Exhibition Hall, A1&B1 Exhibition Hall

The exhibition “Ma Yansong: Landscapes in Motion” was recently inaugurated at the Shenzhen Museum of Contemporary Art and Urban Planning (MoCAUP) in China. The exhibition provides a retrospective of MAD’s research and practices through 52 projects spanning almost two decades across an expansive space of more than 3,000 square meters. It also constitutes the MoCAUP’s first solo exhibition of architecture since its opening in 2016.

Ma Yansong explains the exhibition’s motif in the preface:

Architecture and cities are not abstract scientific technologies but real settings where life unfolds. They represent feelings, ambience, and time. They carry traits of living beings; thus they are full of energy, flow, dynamism, and uncertainty.

Architecture is alive, growing with the earth, endowed with life, rich in emotions, perceptive of time, and compassionate to everything.

The goal of this exhibition is to use architecture as a conduit to explore cultural life, allowing us to probe our inner selves while observing the dynamic, diverse, and fluid cultural landscape of contemporary society.

As the largest, most comprehensive, and critical exhibition since MAD’s founding in 2004, “Ma Yansong: Landscapes in Motion” is divided into four chapters: “Dialogue,” “Progress,” “Feelings are Facts,” and “Rhapsody.” More than half of the exhibits have never been viewable by the public, including Ma Yansong’s hand sketches, detailed drawings from design development, proposals from landscape and structural collaborators, architectural models, and image and video archives of construction process.

The main section of the exhibition commences with more than 180 questions posed from current and previous architects from MAD. The questions touch upon topics related to urban development, architecture, daily life, the role of architects, the future, and dreams, all of which MAD members consider and doubt when designing. Selected questions are further put on a huge circle table, hoping for visitors to further engage in ongoing, extensive, and profound dialogues.

Section I, “Dialogue,” presents seven urban public projects, most of which are also city landmarks, such as the Shenzhen Bay Culture Park, Harbin Opera House, FENIX Museum of Migration, Quzhou Sports Park, Yiwu Grand Theater, Lucas Museum of Narrative Art, and Freedom (a public installation). The embedded design philosophy is the response MAD rendered to questions regarding cities, communities, and people’s well-being. Before starting the journey through the exhibition, visitors can view questions first laid on the wall for all to ponder: “Can architecture reshape society’s boundaries?”, “What defines a happy city?”, and “What will China’s cities resemble in the future?”

Section II, “Progress,” showcases MAD projects either under construction or completed, including the Zhongguancun Forum Congress Center, Hainan Science and Technology Museum, Jiaxing Train Station, and Absolute Towers. These projects represent MAD’s diverse practices: the future city originates from the imagination of a diverse and dynamic urban reality.

Section III, “Feelings are Facts,” introduces 15 design and land art projects, including the Tunnel of Light, Light, and Superstar. These projects showcase MAD’s imagination when addressing different topics through a medium outside of typical architecture. Even so, the design philosophy behind art projects interlink as those of architecture; imagination generates from emotions toward a reality.

Section IV, “Rhapsody,” weaves together 12 projects, including Beijing 2050, Hutong Bubble, and Floating Island, to form a living rhapsody about the city. Each project reflects MAD’s contemplation and criticism of urban reality. As Ma Yansong states, “The work of MAD is like a rhapsody, representing a rebellious and critical attitude. It also manifests an opposition to a generic pattern, goal, form, or language. I am intrigued by responding to the real world with diverse, genuine, and positive emotions.”

The exhibition utilizes various dimensions of display and inquiry to inspire the public to explore and reflect upon the intricate relationships between cities, history, time, and nature. It encourages the public to delve into their inner thoughts and expand their imagination of future life and urban environments.

On October 12th, a series of themed forums were held at MoCAUP. Ma Yansong invited 18 guests, including artists, musicians, art curators, art critics, and writers, to engage in discussions on the publicity of urban architecture, art in motion, and crossover dialogue on culture. These forums, spanning urban areas, architecture, art, philosophy, and literature, extended the scope from architecture to all aspects of life.

The exhibition is open to the public from September 29 until December 17, 2023.

Ma Yansong: Landscapes in Motion

Time: 29 September - 17 December 2023

Venue: Shenzhen Museum of Contemporary Art and Urban Planning, Ground Exhibition Hall, A1&B1 Exhibition Hall


Supervisor: Shenzhen Municipal Bureau of Culture, Sports, Tourism, Radio & Television, Planning and Natural Resources Bureau of Shenzhen Municipality

Organizer: Shenzhen Museum of Contemporary Art and Urban Planning

Co-organizer:  MAD Architects

Supported by: Shenzhen Futian District Bureau of Culture, Broadcasting, Tourism, and Sports

Exhibiting Artist: Ma Yansong

Curator: Yan Weixin

Special Thanks to: Dang Qun, Yosuke Hayano

Exhibition Thanks to: Liu Huiying, Kin Li, Fu Changrui, Dixon Lu, Flora Lee, Tiffany Dahlen, Andrea D'Antrassi

Exhibition Team

Exhibition Directors: Yang Kun, Fiona Qi Ziying

Exhibition Design: Zheng Chengwen, Xue Teng, Cao Chen, Huang Juntao, Tan Miao, Miao Fangyi, Shang Li, Zhang Zhonglin, Li Leyuan

Curatorial Team: Li Ran, Zhu Yuanlong, Cai Yixuan, Zhiyue (Joe) Ma

Exhibition Coordination: Zhou Ning, Zhang Wenqiao

Exhibition Supervision: Sun Baoping, Liang Jinwei

Exhibition Operation: Yan Yulan, Zhang Yun, Li Xiaoyu, Zhang Junrong, Liao Danyu, Xue Xintian, Cheng Yan

Exhibition Business: Sylvie Lyu, Jiang Kuo, Yu Qiannan

Communications and Publicity: Tammy Xie, Liu Danyang, Ji Ruixue, Maison Tydon Communications


Contributing Sponsor: GUOJIAO 1573

Presenting Sponsor: Northglass, Unilumin

Supporting Sponsor: YIHUIDA, BSST, OKAJIMA

Collaborate With

Physical Model Support: QZY Models, JYD Models

Graphic Design: One Thousand Times

Exhibition Set Up: Top Space (China) International Trade Co., Ltd

Light Consultant: RDesign lnternation Lighting

Light Setup: Shanghai Folighting Intelligent Technology Co., Ltd

Printing: Baiqiang Fotoshop Co., Ltd

Partial Documentary Photographs: Social Archive of Chinese Photography (SACP)

Photographs: TAL+Bai Yu, POSITION, ZHOMOMO, Hu Yizi, Wang Xiaotian, Mart Veda

By Naser Nader Ibrahim

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