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Laurent Grasso in Super Fusion: 2021 Chengdu Biennale

A biennale is one of the most influential forms of international art exhibition and is an opportunity to present the spirit of the city in which it is hosted. As an international, cultural and academic event held on a large scale, it is an ideal platform for exchanging artistic ideas and displaying the latest achievements and innovations of art – both local and global. A large-scale, high-quality biennale of this sort is also an opportunity for the city in which it is hosted: to boost its economy, nurture its art and culture, develop its infrastructure and strengthen its ties with the international community.

Chengdu occupies an important position in China’s general development strategy. Along with Chongqing, it is a part of the southwest’s “Twin City Economic Circle” and as such plays an important role in China’s plans for high-quality development in leading zones and advancing new urban construction, as well as the One Belt One Road Initiative. Chengdu is the site of a new development project based on the concept of the “Garden City”, an attempt to explore means of sustainable urban development in the new era. This project prioritizes the environment and green development, as well as building a city that is centered around its inhabitants. As a new model for the Garden City, Chengdu will bring the urban, the human and the natural into harmony with one another, establishing a new urban environment that encapsulates diverse cultures and realizes the ideal of the future city. Chengdu is a city with its own special character: old architecture adjoins new districts, leisure accompanies enterprise, old traditions encounter the latest fashions, and the local interacts with the international. As such it is a vibrant and eclectic city, a super-fusion of multiple dimensions, fields and levels. It is a source of great inspiration for artists and provides fertile land for a large-scale art exhibition.

Since its conception, the Chengdu Biennale has always sought to support and foster Chinese art with a view to exploring the cultural and historical context behind contemporary artistic production, presenting the current status of Chinese art, and helping Chinese artworks attain international status among the artistic community and society more broadly. However, with the arrival of the new era, the Chengdu Biennale has taken on a new mission. The aim of this year’s Biennale is to realise the spirit of the fifth plenary session of the Nineteenth Central Committee of the Communist Party of China. The year that China’s Fourteenth Five-Year Plan is put into action will see two new art galleries open in Chengdu, with the Chengdu Biennale showcasing the latest achievements of the city’s cultural sector. Based on the new development stage, embodying the principles of new development, establishing a new development order and guided by the doctrine of high-quality development, the exhibitions will act as a cultural cornerstone, collecting outstanding art – with an emphasis on new works – from China and abroad under the concept of “Art Blooms in Garden City” thus satisfying the people’s growing need for beauty and culture, and contributing to Chengdu’s cultural infrastructure and high-quality development.

The world has entered a new era in which previous orders and systems no longer hold, and great changes are taking place in the fields of politics, economics, culture and ecology. The fates of people the world over have never been so intimately interconnected. The age in which we live calls for greater dialogue and co-operation between us all, a new system of cultural values that inspires hope. Contemporary art provides precisely the kind of spiritual support humanity needs in such a challenging period of crisis. It is for this reason that the 2021 Chengdu Biennale has chosen Super Fusion for its theme, in the hope that bringing together the global and the local, the urban and the spiritual, the conceptual and the technical, the fashionable and the innovative, the ecological and the esthetic, the traditional and the avant-garde, and uniting these within the form of the art exhibition, we are able to create a super-fusion of ideas and a space for communication that acts across various disciplines and multiple dimensions. The Biennale hopes to build an esthetic home in the ecological space of the Garden City, to open new paths for artistic exploration, and to present the potential for the mutual flourishing of the urban and esthetic.

As a vast artistic event, the Biennale consists of eight themed exhibitions and one international conference of gallery directors, which are entitled Polymorphic Co-Existence, Urban Co-Habitation, Technological Co-Respondence, Zeitgeist Co-Evolution, Ecological Co-Development, Craft Co-Operation, Ethnic Co-Creation, Artistic Co-Inspiration and Future Co-Conception. The Biennale will feature works from more than 270 artists or artistic groups. We believe that “Art Blooms in Garden City – Super Fusion” provides both an opportunity to encounter an important cross-section of international contemporary art and a profound insight into important cultural questions facing humanity. Under the conditions of a world struggling against the COVID pandemic, and China’s approach to managing the crisis in particular, the Chengdu Biennale embodies the vitality of artistic and infrastructural development in China’s cities and will bring the world’s gaze to focus upon China’s cultural confidence and inclusivity.