The mega cultural and artistic event “Art Macao: Macao International Art Biennale 2021” was launched in July. With a chief curator mapping out this year’s Biennale for the first time, the event is divided into several sections, including the Main Exhibition, the Special Exhibition of Resorts and Hotels, the Public Art Exhibition, the Creative City Pavilion, the Selected Works by Local Artists and Collateral Exhibition, among others, fully utilizing the urban characteristics of Macao’s integration of Chinese and western cultures and its geographical advantages, bringing an immersive cultural atmosphere to the entire city as a gallery and an art garden, and establishing a signature brand of cultural tourism at an international level. “Art Macao 2021” features a total of 30 art exhibitions in 25 locations, as well as approximate 800 sessions of outreach activities. It drew over 450 artists/art institutions from 36 countries and regions and attracted over 3.2 million spectators despite the pandemic.
“Art Macao 2021” enters its final stage as a number of exhibitions are approaching the end. However, several public artworks will continue to be displayed in the city until the end of this year or the beginning of next year, among which Learning from Macao, a mega mural by the Drawing Architecture Studio from Beijing for Macao, will be on permanent display on the exterior wall of the Handover Gifts Museum of Macao to create artistic atmosphere in the city. The original version has been collected by the Macao Museum of Art as a permanent commemoration of this event.
Adopting the form of “biennale” to shape an international art exhibition brand
Under the patronage of the Secretariat for Social Affairs and Culture and the Secretariat for Economy and Finance, “Art Macao 2021” is organized by the Cultural Affairs Bureau and the Macao Government Tourism Office, and co-organized by the Education and Youth Development Bureau, Galaxy Entertainment Group, Melco Resorts & Entertainment Limited, MGM, Sands China Ltd., SJM RESORTS, LIMITED, Wynn Macau, Limited, and Nam Kwong (Group) Company Limited, with the participation of various creative cities and local higher education institutions, as well as the support of the Municipal Affairs Bureau and Air Macau.
Curated by Professor Qiu Zhijie, one of the most influential contemporary artists in China and Dean of the School of Experimental Art of the Central Academy of Fine Arts, “Art Macao” is held on a biennale basis, targeting for different types of audience in the curation and thus establishing a signature brand of art exhibition at an international level. The Main Exhibition, curated by Qiu Zhijie and themed “Advance and Retreat of Globalization”, gathered artistic ideas from artists around the world during the globalization era especially in the midst of the pandemic, which bridged a channel for mutual communication and understanding through arts.
Establishing a platform for cultural and artistic exchanges; promoting the reputation of “Cultural Macao”
Themed “To create for Well-being”, “Art Macao 2021” featured the Creative City Pavilion for the first time. Under the main curatorship of the Macao poet, translator and curator Yao Feng, the event brings together four UNESCO Creative Cities, including Macao, Nanjing, Wuhan and Linz, demonstrating the spirit of artists in creation in the midst of the pandemic and strengthening exchanges and cooperation between cities. The exhibition, themed “Macao: City of Gastronomy – Bon Appétit!”, features local artworks and the awarding works of the romantic composition contest, presenting the interplay of Macao’s gastronomy and art. The exhibition “Selected Works by Local Artists” provides an international exchange platform for Macao artists, broadens their international perspectives and cultivates outstanding talents. For the Collateral Exhibition, various higher education institutions, including the University of Macau, Macau University of Science and Technology, Macao Polytechnic Institute and the University of Saint Joseph, host exhibitions, allowing students to show their creativity in “Art Macao”.
The event “Art Macao 2021”, with its succession of exhibitions, presented a movable feast of the city and established a platform for cultural and artistic exchange. The organizers, resorts and hotels hosted art exchange activities, bringing inspiration at different levels and aspects. Chief curator Qiu Zhijie hosted two thematic lectures, bringing inspiration to the curatorial thinking and international vision, exploring new paths for the art sector in Macao. Several resorts and hotels also responded enthusiastically, offering nearly 800 outreach activities, including nearly 200 art workshops and talks for children and teenagers, as well as nearly 500 sessions of guided tours and nearly 100 activities in different types. Various public artworks were exhibited in various districts, showing creations of artists from Mainland China, Thailand, Argentina, Egypt and Italy, allowing the audience to appreciate art at close range. In addition, a series of promotional activities for “Art Macao 2021” was launched in many metropolitan cities and tourism cities, especially in the Greater Bay Area and a number of popular tourism cities in China, including the promotional videos broadcasted on TV and various media, promotions on travel platforms such as Ctrip App, TravelGo and Tuniu through the booths in “Macao Week”, publications of images, texts and videos on social networks such as TikTok, Xiaohongshu, Wechat, Weibo, Facebook and Instagram, promoting the reputation of “Cultural Macao”, thus driving the mutual development between cities in the Greater Bay Area with the advantages of cultural resources in Macao.
Online exhibitions launched during the pandemic; the delivery of art performances encourages the public to appreciate art
As various exhibitions featured in “Art Macao 2021” were closed due to the epidemic prevention measures, the organizer launched the “Exhibitions at Home” series on new media platforms, introducing the exhibitions through multimedia elements, fighting the pandemic with the public at home, and enhancing their understanding of the exhibits. There were also several exhibitions equipped with AR viewing experience, with certain artworks available for the public to interact with onsite or online, breaking geographical barriers.
The organizer was dedicated to spreading the atmosphere and joy of art to the community in different ways. In late October, “Art Macao” also offered the delivery of art performances, allowing the public to appreciate art, encouraging art practitioners to show their talents during the pandemic, and seeking the possibility of cross-platform art collaboration. The delivery of art performances for “Art Macao” was well received by the public since its launch and was fully booked quickly. A total of 216 art performances were delivered by 13 groups of artists within six days. The art experience activities “Art Tours” and “Kids Tours” were cancelled this year due to the pandemic. In the future, the organizer will make sustained efforts to plan new types of art dissemination, bringing art closer to different viewers.
“Art Macao” established a biennale brand to enrich the cultural tourism experience in Macao
Through the organization of the event “Art Macao”, the Macao SAR Government has created an international brand of a biennale that features the characteristics of the era and of Macao, taking advantages of Macao’s role as a platform for cultural exchanges by extending the concept of creative cities and integrating technology into art. With the interaction on the frontier of contemporary art, the event “Art Macao” invigorates local dynamism of artistic creation, enriching the city’s cultural tourism experience, and stimulating the dialogues between Chinese and other cultures. The next edition of “Art Macao” is scheduled to be held in 2023.
Some exhibitions of “Art Macao: Macao International Art Biennale 2021” are still available. The Cultural Affairs Bureau will strictly follow the relevant guidelines of the Health Bureau and implement appropriate measures for “Art Macao: Macao International Art Biennale 2021”. All participants must wear face masks, undergo temperature checks, present a valid “Macao Health Code” of the day, and follow crowd control measures on-site. Admission to all activities is free. For more information, please visit the official website at www.artmacao.mo, “artmacao” on Instagram, “IC Art” page on Facebook, and “IC_Art_Macao” on WeChat.