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Inside Shanghai's First Cult Exhibition

Jun 24, 2016 | 18:26 Fri
Entropy. Overthrowing the art world. B-movies, eyeballs, manga, and synthpop. A look inside Shanghai's first "cult exhibition", now on in Hongkou.


Currently among the top three most popular events on Douban, this exhibition was crowdfunded by 1,697 backers with 137,506rmb in May. Curator Dashi, a senior 3D designer who works for EA, has brought together hundreds of works from 17 media writers and over 180 artists, all of whom lay some claim to cult followings for their works. The exhibition is in a small space hidden in the back end of Liyang Lu 111 Art Complex.

A tired and rundown complex, the environment definitely sets a seedy and transgressive tone for the works you are about to see. Images from B-movies compete for space with steamy Japanese manga: eyeballs, body parts, infants, underaged girls, and of course, direct or indirect manifestations of sex organs. It's a spicy brew, replete with '80s synthpop and disco playing softly in the background.

Works on display here are a mixed bag. The self-consciously immature and provocative mixes with loftier academic concerns.

Shock value and mockery are overt motivations for lots of the material, while some pieces indicate deeper formal technical training intermingling with twisted impulses. Despite the scale of the exhibition -- two showrooms in total -- craft works, paintings, installments are almost everywhere (so are the QR codes), enough to browse for an hour or two. Every evening except Tuesday, they screen short videos and animations by local artists.

First volume of 'Cult Literature', a collection of self-published articles that's complimentary for backers and not for sale.

The event is on until July 3. Price is 80rmb for weekdays and 100rmb on weekends (you can buy tickets online). Recommended for anyone curious about underground artists and youth culture in China.


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