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ON SITE

the Rockbund Art Museum and Cai Guo-Qiang

IN HIS RECENT EXHIBITION at Shanghai’s new Rockbund Art Museum, Cai Guo-Qiang included, in addition to a few works of his own, the folk contraptions and bittersweet narratives of nine Chinese countryside inventors, or, as he calls them, “Peasant da Vincis.” Since 2005, the artist has collected the homemade submarines and cobbled-together flying machines of these amateur engineers, and, as the collector, curator, and ranking artist of “Peasant da Vincis,” he deployed their inventions throughout the newly renovated spaces of the museum in his customarily expansive and spectacular manner. Mostly variants on aircraft, watercraft, and robots, these devices coalesced under Cai’s curatorship into a fanciful installation evoking a mythological dreamscape of swooping dragons, swarming dragonflies, and fleeting fish.

One of the few contemporary art museums in China explicitly devoted to socially and

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