MUSEUM 2050 Dispatches

Updates from the 798CUBE Art Center

Tiange Yang

We are approaching the date when the first exhibition under our collaborative project between
the Fondation Giacometti, the Musée National Picasso-Paris and us was supposed to have its
grand opening. It would be hectic for me right now, at this moment.

It’s mid-June, and it’s already a different world from any possible situation we might imagine it to
be half a year ago. I find it so hard to envision, as in a parallel universe, today’s situation without
the recent pandemic-hit past. There wouldn’t be that many small restaurants and shops closing
down at my neighborhood, and in the art world, the momentum of young art, artists, and spaces
would not interrupted or halted. For us who work in institutions, there would not be any time to
pause, to reflect and to fully prepare.

The generally negative situation, after all, is a double-edged sword. Despite the delay of the
grand opening and the subsequent costs, we are now able to do much more preparatory work,
including self-learning, researching, consulting, team building, regulation improving, and etc.,
which I believe will benefit our museum in a longer term.

Our team is very encouraged after our online meeting with our French partners yesterday, and
they, too, are encouraged by the overall improvement of the public health situation in Europe.
We have a feeling that we are heading back – cautiously of course – to the routine of daily work.
With the selection of the artworks, the first show is taking shape.

Meanwhile in Beijing, we are pleased with the progress we make on a weekly basis. We initiated
a self-learning project once the decision of delaying the opening was made. Knowing that we will
be the “translators” of the knowledge from the French institutions to the Chinese audience, as a
rehearsal, each of us take turns to present to all each week on the topics ranging from
chronological studies on artists, art and social histories, as well as intellectual trends.
Subsequently, we have already developed several directions of programs for public education in
the future.

I’m willing to share my own vision that I strive for here as well regarding the 798CUBE Art Center.
Fundamentally, it is about realizing the exhibition of the two modern masters, Picasso and
Giacometti, with the highest standard and the best quality; and equally important, it will be our
responsibilities as an institution in Beijing to localize the content by tailor making programs that
target the community. As the community is diverse in terms of age, interests and knowledge
base, we will have different types and levels of programs for kids, students, professionals, and
others.

One direction that I personally focus on is Chinese modern artists, especially those who were
directly exposed to French modern art or even went to study there. For the general public here
in China, I believe it would be great to know how generations of Chinese modern artists have
tried to bridge foreign modern art with the Chinese traditional taste or their own aesthetic
inclinations; and for the professionals in the academic studies of modern art, I hope our museum
can be a knowledge production place where pioneering researches are shared and publicized.

During the corona virus pandemic, the feeling of powerless is strong as I am once again humbled
by the unpredictable happenings. While paying more respect to nature and humanity, I believe
there are things to be done despite all difficulties. Yang Hsien-yi’s translation of Qu Yuan
(c. 340–278 BC) is quoted here as an end of the article, and as a start of the forthcoming journey:

The way was long, and wrapped in gloom did seem,

As I urged on to seek my vanished dream.

About the Author:

Tiange Yang is Curator at the Exhibition Department, 798CUBE Art Center.

About the Series:

Museum 2050 has always been about bringing people together through our community’s shared passion for museums and institutional development. As the world slowly and carefully starts reopening, we are checking in weekly with various members of our broader network to share personal reflections, anecdotes and musings about how they and their institutions have been operating in the face of this pandemic. In these incredibly difficult times for all, we hope that these brief vignettes from around the world bring us closer together, and remind us that even when the world stops and museum doors close, we still persevere.