British V&A museum builds cultural bridge to China with design exhibition

Source: Xinhua| 2017-12-03 03:05:37|Editor: Mu Xuequan
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LONDON, Dec. 2 (Xinhua) -- As a new gallery which is the collaboration between London's Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A) and a Chinese partner opened Saturday in the southern Chinese city of Shenzhen, the British museum said it wants to build a stronger relationship with China.

The collaboration with China Merchants Shekou Holdings (CMSK) is the first of its kind between V&A and a Chinese partner, said Luisa Mengoni, head of the V&A Gallery at Design Society.

"The gallery has been developed after research undertaken in China, especially in Shenzhen, to ensure that the project would be truly relevant and significant in the context of this city," Mengoni told Xinhua on Saturday.

"The V&A has been engaging with China since its foundation, but this is the first project of this scale and ambition, and it comes from a strong interest in further strengthen the museum's relationship with China and develop a new model of international collaboration," she said.

The new gallery in Shenzhen marks a milestone in the V&A's relationship with China, according to Mengoni.

Through its partnership with CMSK, the V&A, one of Britain's prestigious museums, has given professional advice, consultancy and provided training to help establish a new cultural area in Shenzhen called "Design Society".

The V&A Gallery in Design Society opened with an exhibition "Values of Design", which includes objects from around the world and especially from China.

Objects have been chosen from Shenzhen, but among those objects which will be immediately recognizable to any modern Chinese is the version of WeChat (Weixin), a widely used social platform in China.

Other key acquisitions, developed in Shenzhen, include a Phantom drone from DJI, a company which has revolutionized UAV-technology by making it affordable and easy-to-use, and the Seeeduino Microcontroller by Seeed Studio, who have become a key advocate for maker culture in China.

"The interest in Shenzhen is also due to the unique context of the city, for decades a manufacturing center of huge importance and global relevance and now with the potential of becoming a global player in the design world. The transition from 'made in China' to 'create in China' will most likely unfold there," Mengoni noted.

She told Xinhua that the strengths of the gallery is that "it provides several critical counterpoints that invite reflection". For example, an orthopedic iron corset of the 18th century made to correct a curved spine paired with a Cheeta running blade that addresses a disability but also alludes to superhuman abilities.

The gallery in Shenzhen provides a reflection and critical framework on values around design, said Mengoni, with an aim of sparking debate with visitors about design.

"The gallery addresses global issues that are relevant for both China and the rest of the world, such as cost and consumption, supply chains, scarcity of materials, waste," she added.

"Some sections like the one devoted to copies may help countries outside China to rethink stereotypical concepts about copying, while the use of critical pairing can be a useful tool in the China context to raise awareness about design and design practices."