Fantastic Illusions - Media Art Exhibition of Chinese and Belgian Artists (Shanghai) (intl event)
Date 2009.09.13-2009.10.11...closed
Opening 2009.09.12, Saturday
Venue Museum of Contemporary Art, Shanghai
(231 West Nanjing Rd, People's Park, Gate 7, Shanghai)
Curator Christophe De Jaeger, Pieter Vermeulen, Yan Xiaodong
Artist Chen Jenova, David Claerbout, Hans Op De Beeck, Anouk De Clercq, Nick Ervinck, Hu Jieming, Lo Teddy, Peng Yun, Bart Stolle, Tale of Tales, Heidi Voet, Wu Juehui, Xu Wenkai
Parental System Updating - 2009 Shanghai eArts Festival


The title of the exhibition alludes to the desire of humans to be admitted to a world that is out of the ordinary, a world of fantasy. Considering the philosophical developments in the 20th century the least of the tasks of the critical artist is to create illusions. However, history shows that both artists and spectators have a constant desire that is best described by the romantic phrase: 'Die Sehnsucht im Bild zu sein'.
Which of us has never experienced the uncontrollable urge to step into the world of a painting? Take a Dutch landscape by Jacob van Ruysdael; our gaze is irresistibly drawn to the path that runs through the landscape until it can go no further. What a disappointment that we cannot get beyond the horizon or feel the wind raging over the landscape! The medium of film offers us a variety of images and consequently a greater illusion, but here too the spectator cannot get beyond the screen. When Uncle Josh, in a film by Edison in 1902, jumps through the screen because he has fallen in love with the actress, he comes to blows with the projectionist.
Artists have often tried to make the illusion as great as possible for the spectator. The manipulation of space is crucial in this. Either artists intervene in the visitor’s space or they allow the visitor to intervene in the space of the work of art itself.
In the 19th and 20th centuries it was generally the artists that intervened in the actual space of the visitor. By painting gigantic, panoramic canvases or by building dark cinema auditoria artists endeavoured to exclude reality and create a new world for the spectator. At the end of the 20th century, thanks to the rapid development of the computer and associated technologies, the spectator could also intervene in the space of the work of art. In Virtual Reality systems the spectator could suddenly walk, via an avatar, through an artificial world and perform actions. The Cyberpunk of the 1980s even dabbled with the ultimate idea of setting aside the body of flesh and blood and being swallowed up in cyberspace by a stream of data. The spectator could disappear for ever in the image.
In the exhibition Fantastic Illusions seven Belgian and seven Chinese artists build illusory spaces for the visitor. A continual interaction between the space of the artist and that of the spectator is the recurring theme of the exhibition. The artists work with various media such as painting, video art and computer installations.