INTERVIEW: Budi Tek on the New Yuz Museum in Shanghai

On 15/01/2014 by Site Default
INTERVIEW: Budi Tek on the New Yuz Museum in Shanghai
The exterior of the Yuz Museum, Shanghai.

(Courtesy Sam Gaskin)

First came the Power Station of Art, adapted from a building that previously generated electricity for a shipyard. Then there was the Xuhui Long Museum, situated on an industrial site complete with railway tracks and disused cranes. Now, the latest mega museum to join Shanghai’s prospering “West Bund Cultural Corridor” is being housed in aircraft hangars, once part of the Longhua Airport.

On Tuesday, January 7, Indonesian art collector Budi Tek hosted a “completion ceremony” for the Yuz Museum, which will open to the public in May this year.

This latest Shanghai art museum, which will house works from Tek’s private collection, has a total area of 9,000 square meters, 3,000 of which are devoted to the hangar space alone. The hangars’ ceilings are over 21 meters tall at their highest point, though because the buildings are protected, works can only be hung from newly built struts around the 10 meter mark.

In addition to the hangars — painted a similar red to the China Art Palace, a short barge ride down the Huangpu — Japanese architect Sou Fujimoto has designed supplementary spaces for the museum including a bright, open area with a high “glass curtain” overlooking the river.

BLOUIN ARTINFO spoke to Tek about the museum’s development and ambitions.

While this event is called a completion ceremony, there’s obviously still some work left to do. What’s not yet finished?

The public area needs to be completed, and then at the same time the floor needs to be completed. It’ll be concrete, but better quality than this. [There will also be] a public area, gift shop, cafe, and restaurant area. We’re waiting for May to have our first show.

The opening date seems to have been pushed back a few times. Why?

This is an old building, so it’s complicated. If we had the right to demolish it and construct it again it would have been a shorter period. But because this is a protected building we have to be very careful. The ceiling has been there for 70 years so we need to buy special materials, and at the same time, old buildings need to be strengthened, so it really costs a lot of time.

How do you plan to fill such a huge space?

We have a lot of mega works, which have been published in a famous book. I think our largest work is Adel Abdessemed’s planes [“Telle mere tel fils”, three planes braided together, 2009].

So those will be installed in the Yuz Museum?

I think so. Our curator has already positioned the work at the center of the building.

How will the Yuz be different from other Shanghai art museums?

It’s a contemporary art museum, very focused on only contemporary art. It’s the only museum that will exhibit a lot of installations. But we have this area [where videos of the museum’s construction were projected on the wall during the completion ceremony], and a painting area. Of course it’s going to be different because we are very international.

Is there an expectation from the government for you to give opportunities to Chinese artists?

They never said that. Shanghai is a very open-minded government and they invited me to come here. They invited not only me but a few people with good collections.

Do you think you were given a preferential deal?

When you are the only person willing to come, you don’t have a comparison. But now of course a lot of people would like to come.

Have you found it challenging working with local government?

I think they are very supportive because they know this is good for the region, for Shanghai, the people of Shanghai and China. They know that and we know that, so we have a common mind.

Another private museum, the Long Museum, will soon open just up the road. Do you see them as competition?

We’d like them to be closer, we’d like more museums to be here.

Click on the slideshow to see inside the new Yuz Museum, Shanghai.

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