While China does not stand still, the cultural arrest that exists in Europe and America is truly significant. The truth is that while society, the public, the viewer have changed over time, the Western cultural and artistic sector has not been able to communicate the urgency of its presence at a time when it would have been urgent to do so. For this reason it excluded itself and it was easy for the institutions to downgrade culture to a “non-essential service”. While Europe has been in total lockdown for almost a year now, including the cultural sector, with postponed events, blocked exhibitions, closed museums and semi-open schools, in China the constant monitoring and extraordinary measures taken by the government have managed to keep the pandemic under control. Putting six months of pandemic struggle behind it, the Chinese government has spread the confidence necessary to get people back on the street, to make them participate in big events and social life, so much so that today the big cities have recovered the lost events and the life has begun to pulse again at an almost normal rate. The week of contemporary art was inaugurated in Shanghai with its two main events: ART021 and West Bund Art Design Fair, which took place in the presence and brought local excitement, (given that for obvious reasons they could not count on the presence international) this has pushed the communication towards the conquest of the locals. In Beijing, the UCCA Center for Contemporary Art will host the largest Andy Warhol exhibition ever made in China and the Maurizio Cattelan exhibition curated by Francesco Bonomi will soon open.
So even if some doors are timidly opened, in Europe the forecasts for 2021 are worse than last year! This is because great events, great exhibitions are not improvised. Just think of the enormous work that lies behind an exhibition, the years required for the preparation of international loans for the works themselves, the scientific, administrative work, collaborations with sponsors and international institutions, even before organizing the exhibition on site. Not to mention the cumbersome bureaucracy that in Italy turns into a real plague. It must be said that China is completely in another cultural moment compared to the West, they are keeping up with the future, releasing a ferment that was only equal here in the post-war period.
It is strange, but the pandemic has revealed how all cultural environments (and not only) have been found to be unsuitable for hosting the community. Museums have finally looked at each other without veils, and the flaws that have emerged were there from years, but also it emerged the inability of institutions to use the young part of the country, capable of innovating and awakening the sector. For some time technicians have been shouting unheard of the need for change. How can culture be produced when one cannot keep up with the times? how can culture be made a contemporary affair when it is isolated in environments that are unable to communicate with the new generations? where is the past transmitted but not the confidence necessary to create the new? Because let’s remember that the research and support of contemporary artists should be everyone’s business. There is not only classical culture and the past. Failing to pass on the importance of the existence of the contemporary artist and his work to the new generations means not being able to analyze the present.
The reality is that art is an expression of its time. If you wanted to read it, you could say that in this century the economy is the true art! representation of a world governed by the desire for wealth of a few, who by taking beauty hostage denied the artist’s ability to fertilize. This is why today its absence is justified. This pandemic has brutally brought out the loneliness in which the artist lives today. The future of the sector after the violent transition from a pandemic lies in the rapid transformation capacity of a world that had already “expired” before this disaster occurred.