Friday, April 18, 2008

Cina – Alla Corte Degli Imperatori

Cina - Alla Corte Degli Imperatore - Palazzo Strozzi Cina Cina Cina! - Palazzo Strozzina
The exhibit Cina – Alla Corte Degli Imperatore (China – In the Court of the Emperors) is at the Palazzo Strozzi, Florence from 7 March to 8 June, 2008. The Palazzo Strozzi is a beautiful Renaissance palazzo to see an exhibit in. The lighting and the signage are good. The exhibit space is on the piano nobile (next floor above ground floor) in a series of eight rooms around the main courtyard. The courtyard has a huge Buddha greeting you as you enter the palazzo from the west. 10 Euros for a ticket.

The exhibit focuses on the Han Dynasty (23 – 220) and Tang Dynasty (617 – 907). The Tang Dynasty was considered “l’età d’oro cinese” (the golden age of China) when there was a period of progress and stability. We liked the exhibit and learned a little about Tang Dynasty. I think we can tell the difference between a Buddha (big ears, simply dressed?) and Bodhisattva (usually with jewelry?) now and understand how strangers were portrayed (long noses and goatees?). One interesting point was brought up in the audio guide (5 Euros) on a group of statues of women riding horses: that women’s rights during the Tang era were fairly liberal compared to later periods or other countries at the time. For example, the three statues showed the women riding horses astride in the saddle and not sidesaddle.
For more information go to the exhibit site at http://www.cinamaivistafirenze.it/.

In the Strozzina there was an exhibit called Cina Cina Cina! – Arte Contemporanea Cinese Oltre Il Mercato Globale (China China China! – Chinese Contemporary Art Beyond the Global Market). The Strozzina is basically the basement of the Palazzo Strozzi. It’s an odd space that lends itself to more modern shows, for example, the previous show Sistemi Emotivi. The current exhibit makes a lot of use of video, some banal, some spooky. The show tries to explore the question of what the China phenomenon is by looking through the eyes of three Chinese curators. The curators give the viewer a chance to see three points of view of how current Chinese artists are impacting the international art system. To tell you the truth, I didn’t get this until I reread the pamphlet for the show about five times later. And, I’m not sure the viewpoint came across to us. Maybe we were saturated from seeing the top floor exhibit and this was just too much?

The previous shows in the Strozzi and Strozzina were Contro Moda and Sistemi Emotivi, respectively.
Buddha in the Palazzo Strozzi Courtyard

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