(First Instalment) Zhang Qing
“View trees, then miss your home; study documents, then love the ancient state.”
Seventy-nine years ago, Suzhou, one of cultural hubs in China, showed the richness of its local documents in the “1937: Suzhou Exhibition of Documents” show. The exhibition was farsighted, and marked a watershed, indicating the cultural characteristics and cohesiveness and of the city, acknowledging the spiritual wealth of citizens inherited from the early 1920s.
Since the Documenta was established in Kassel, West Germany, in 1955, this mode of exhibition has been imitated by many cities internationally, as a means of displaying the contemporary art of different countries. Among these, the ,“1937: Suzhou Exhibition of Documents” played a pioneering role, spearheading a new trend of local exhibitions of documents around China, and demonstrating the openness and modernity of Suzhou in the early 1920s.
Seventy-nine years after “1937: Suzhou Exhibition of Documents”, we return to this history with “Suzhou Documents”. Inevitably, we are encouraged to retrace our steps and look for the remains of the 1937 show. It would be impossible to recreate the original completely, after the impact of war, social change and the passage of time. Many museums and libraries and other institutions have been consulted in a attempt to collect the remaining catalogues, books, paintings, calligraphy, newspapers and magazines.
After preliminary research, we attempted to reconstruct the exhibition. This entailed not only collecting historical data, but more importantly, emphasised our ambition to reestablish ‘Suzhou studies’, relating to a new context of the contemporary, the global and the local.
Local documents maintain Chinese culture, contributing to its diversity. Thus reactivating Suzhou culture and history is the aim and mission of the exhibition, for this cutting-edge city, with its vision of the contemporary.
We recall “1937: Suzhou Exhibition of Documents” here, anticipating a global hub in Suzhou for the second time.
In a Beijing heatwave, 2016
Speeches, visit rules and program, spaces allocation, collection rules, name list
catalog of the exhibits (by Ye Gongchuo)