Expo 2010 Shanghai China Urban Best Practices Area Shenzhen Case Pavilion Booklet

MENG Yan/Chief curator

1 Coding and placement of Exhibits

1-“Dafen Lisa”– conceptual painting +video installation

2- City showcase– multimedia images

3- Meaning of signs

4- Village/City– mini-theatre for animated film

5- Village Archive -spatial installation+video

6- Oil painting workshop – oil painting +video installation

7- Dafen painters – photography lightbox + oil painting

8- Global Industry – ready made container + video

9- Dafen Art Museum – model + multimedia light effects

10- The Regenerating Box installation

11-The Dream Box installation

12- Seven Colored Clouds sculpture

13.1- Shenzhen Time – multimedia installation

13.2-Shenzhen Faces – a documentary about the city

13.3- Shenzhen Details – multimedia installation

13.4-Shenzhen Archive – graphic installation

13.5- Postcard to Shenzhen– graphic installation

14- Flowing Color -sculpture

15- Bazaar of Creations

16- Behind a Collective Creation – film on “1 painting by 1000 painters”


2 Introduction to the Exhibition

Trilogy of the Exhibition Spatial Narrative

Prologue    Dafen Lisa/ the Genesis of Shenzhen

Episode 1   Made in Dafen

Episode 2   Dafen Transformation

Episode 3   Urban Theatre:“Shenzhen, Frontier for China Dreams”



2.1 Prologue:  Dafen Lisa/ the Genesis of Shenzhen


Exhibit Number 1:  Dafen Lisa, conceptual painting + video installation


“This is not Mona Lisa”

Five hundred years ago at the peak of Italian Renaissance, Leonardo da Vinci painted the portrait of Mona Lisa with her charming, mysterious smile. Created by one of the greatest artists in human history, this image has been a shared symbol for humanity through many centuries. The Mona Lisa is the queen residing high in the palace of art and as a cultural symbol becomes the most frequent reproduced popular consumer art product.


Over the past century, her smiling face has also been manipulated or recreated ad infinitum by artists throughout the world to derive new concepts, pose new challenges and provoke critical thinking about the fundamental issues in art.


On Jan. 28th 2010, this eternal image had its renaissance. Over the past twenty years, the Mona Lisa along with other classic artworks, have been reproduced repeatedly in an obscure village in Southern China, and then shipped around the world, transcending their original birthplaces and cultural milieu. Unlike Marcel Duchamp in the early twentieth century who satirically added a moustache on the smiling face, here in Dafen village, it is neither an individual artist’s experimentation, nor a mere copy of a classic, it is a collaborative creation – a conceptual art piece involving more than 500 Dafen painters.


The transformation of Dafen village epitomes the rapid urbanization of Shenzhen over the past thirty years, while the collective image of Dafen painters represents the society at large in this youthful city. Most of them come from South China, some are college graduates freshly out of art school, and some are young migrants who have never touched a paintbrush before. It is these people, with their hard work and their persistent, deeply heartfelt, pursuit of the direct and simple dream of change. This was the driving force that pushed this little village into the globalization process. Artwork production transformed Dafen village, a remote Hakka community, into an important link in the global art manufacturing chain, and facilitated the integration of Dafen village into the surrounding city. During this growth process, art production is also continuously influencing artisans and art manufacturers, while the cultural connotations of the artwork are reshaping the residents.


“Dafen Lisa – this is not Mona Lisa” It points to the core. This declaration is redolent of the anecdote of Magritte, father of conceptual art in the last century. He once added a note next to his painting of a tobacco pipe saying, “This is not a pipe”. As the creator’s identity and the context have both shifted, Mona Lisa is no longer the Mona Lisa we originally knew, or Mona Lisa was renewed under the distinctive context of Dafen village. “Dafen Lisa” is a new species, a species born in Shenzhen – a newly emergent city that new species have thrived in, over the past thirty years.


The huge portrait of Dafen Lisa comes in at 43 meters long and 7 meters high, constituting the front facade of Shenzhen Case Pavilion. Reading and discovering the hidden secret of this huge mural, you will find the key code to enter this pavilion. It is comprised of 999 oil painting units with sizes slightly varying from each other. Images on each of these oil painting units are decomposed, pixilated, and reshaped into layers and bodies of colors, contours and blocks. At the same time, the original style of each painting is retained with different genres, brushes, strokes, techniques and hues. All these variations are well protected, so inside the huge mural, there are hundreds of unique, distinctive abstract paintings, each reserving its original texture and artistic message. This variated, pixilated composition conveys the very essence of this mural, while preserving each individual painter’s identity, individualality and mindset at the time they were painting their portion of this gargantuan collaborative work.     


The decomposed, pixilated oil paintings are embedded into exquisite aluminum frames. Seams are intentionally left between the frames, varying progressively in width from 3 cm to 15 cm. With LEDs mounted behind the frames lighting up the backboard, gives the illusion that the 999 paintings are floating on a sea. The progressively widened light seams draw the attention of visitors, who are further led by floating light-spots to the entrance. The entrance is like a doorway leading into the huge mural, welcoming and drawing a person in. At this moment, the hidden LCD screens within the painting frames start simultaneously to display animated pictures and a scene of Shekou Mountain thirty years ago being blasted away. Then the founding of the Shenzhen special economic zone looms into view and begins the multi-media presentation telling the origins of Shenzhen.


Carefully examined, an inconspicuous name can be noticed at the corner of each oil painting unit. These are obscure names, names of the common painters. These people are the creators of the Dafen Lisa. However, visitors may not know that behind each painting, there are ages, places of origin and a sentence describing the painter’s dream. These secrets and behind-the-scene stories can only be discovered when visitors start to explore the pavilion.


Exhibit Number 2:  City showcase – multimedia images

The entrance doorway functions as a buffer space for visitors to anticipate and wait before they see the exhibition. Like a crossroads in the city, this waiting area, coupled with the huge mural of “Dafen Lisa”, is the prologue of the exhibition. A bulletin board covering the entire wall on the right-side of the doorway is just like a city shop window, showcasing the miraculous evolution of Shenzhen. It shows in detail, the growth from a tiny fishing village to a metropolis through silhouette pictures made up of many LCD screens hiding behind frosted glass.

It starts with old photos depicting what Shenzhen was like thirty years ago. Then, there’s the Shekou mountain blasting scene where exploded pixels form the shape of a rumbling bulldozer and a buzzing construction site. Next, the theme colors (green and red double colors) the city archive of government documents and stamps fly over from above, weaving into the background photos of the rise of Shenzhen.


The intentionally blurred images resemble oil paintings while conveying a sense that the history is fading away, and it is the future that this city is most concerned about. Let the childhood and adolescence belong to the past, this young city is longing for the future.


Visitors can look into the past and present of Shenzhen through these faint old photos, while the dynamic documents and seals usher in a new era for Shenzhen, a city on a mission to experiment with new models for cities and define a new era. A door with floor to ceiling height is embedded in the frosted glass wall, it is a gate that is closed most of the time yet when open, through the image wall of 30 years worth of history, it connects directly to the future dream space – Episode 3.


Exhibit Number 3:  Meaning of Signs

Unlike the flat surface of the right-side wall of the city window, the left side is a rugged surface made up of many blocks covered with slogans in red and green texts, which is reminiscent of the banners commonly seen in China’s city streets. In both Chinese and English text, the theme of the pavilion “Shenzhen, Frontier for China Dreams” acts like a navigation bar marking the transition space from city into village.


“In today’s China, the line between cities and urban villages are increasingly blurred due to the dynamics and integration process in these areas and the urban planning. Various cultural orientations, lifestyles and social structures interweave to form a “new model with Chinese characteristics”. This “Shenzhen, Frontier for China dreams” themed exhibition profiles this new model and is increasingly more visualized in images, and that was the inspiration for my design ideas for this exhibition.

  1. Texts are a special form of images. Words under specific cultural backgrounds are in themselves highly distinctive and identifiable images. During the narrative process, these “images” keep evolving and developing, without any specific starting or end points. When images are blended into the narration, they are vague and blurred.
  2. Interweaving and overlapping: Different colors help set Chinese and Western language apart, and characterize “village” and “urban” areas conceptually. The overlapping parts of different areas form new figures which are irregular in shape, symbolizing the integration of different cultures.

Functionally, red and green are complementary colors that invite visitors to actively participate in the information receiving, screening and restoring process, plus red and green polariscopes are used to help viewers read in different languages. The combined use of two colors brings rich and diverse visual experiences to the entire exhibition space. ”

——Guang Yu


Exhibit Number 4:  Village to City Story”  mini-theatre with animated film


Behind the slogan wall there is a transition area: a low ceiling zone with increasingly dimmed lights. Here visitors are surrounded by pieces of walls with varying heights, which symbolize the dense and diverse landscape of the urban village. Six built-in screens on the wall display images which address aspects of city development such as “rapid urbanization”, “evolution of the urban village” and the “industrialization of Dafen”. These highly differentiated subjects reflect acute social concerns, yet are presented in a vivacious and popular style. The use of multiple screens offers multiple perspectives, providing the visitors with an overview of the story to be told inside the exhibition area.


“The animated film serves as a ‘preface’ to the exhibition. Its aim is to catch the audience’s attention immediately with humorous and riveting visual messages that tell a story about the development of Dafen and Shenzhen in a romantic light. While designing the film, I was aware that history is multifaceted rather than a single-line story, so I chose the multiple screen approach to try to reflect a variety of perspectives and provide a large picture of Shenzhen. We decided to put up three 16:3 screens, together to function like a super-wide screen. Pictures on the three screens are sometimes joined into a large picture or presented separately, a variation that makes the scene more interesting. The animated movie mainly tells a story about the urban development of Shenzhen, the village-to-city transformation and the industrial upgrading of Dafen village.


For a place as visionary and miraculous as Shenzhen, it is easy to add some fun to the animated story. For example, in the movie I used the metaphor of “Russian blocks” to represent the skyscrapers in the city. More and more high-rises are being built, yet unlike in the games, they cannot be eliminated. So ultimately they all accumulate on the terrain and look like psoriasis for the city skin. In addition, I liken Dafen’s oil painting industry to a kaleidoscope. The reason is that you need only a handful of small slips to produce fabulous pictures in the kaleidoscope, and this is true with Dafen’s oil painting industry too. With some simple paintbrushes and canvases, Dafen people have created breathtaking changes. Also, the richness of a kaleidoscopic view resembles the diversity and multiplicity of Dafen’s flourishing oil painting industry. Furthermore, you can also view Shenzhen as a kaleidoscope, from a variety of perspectives, and people come from different cultural backgrounds to instantaneously join into a fascinating picture.”


——Lei Lei


2.2  Episode 1: Made in Dafen (Exhibit Numbers 5, 6, 7, 8)

This is a story told through four sequential chambers arranged on a terrace-like space. Going up the steps, visitors first come to theVillage Archive installation through which they can have an understanding about the geographical, social, cultural and policy background of Dafen. Next is the Oil Painting Workshop installation which introduces the manufacturing model of Dafen, as illustrated by the words of Dafen leading figures. Then the Dafen Paintersinstallation displays the lives of Dafen people, followed by the Container section which showcases how Dafen is running as a part of a global industry. Through these chambers, visitors can have a glimpse of the characteristics of an “urban village”, the oil painting industry there and the life and values of Dafen people.


Exhibit Number 5: the Village Archives  spatial installation + video


Entering through a small opening, an orange space comes into sight – the first episode of the trilogy, “Made in Dafen”. It is as if the visitor has now entered a house/studio in Dafen village, where everything is arranged closely and pleasantly. Scenes of Dafen are abundant here. First a map, reflecting the amazing cityscape of Dafen and then up the stairs, there are hundreds of oil painting frames of various sizes and styles cascading down from the two-story ceiling into the space. They are like plants growing out of little seams and spread far and wide. These frames are brought from Dafen and are coated with an orange tint in the exhibition space. Six electronic albums embedded in the wall are fast-displaying photos of the village scene, the static objects, dynamic events, government files, etc. The content is categorized and organized into vibrant single-color blocks. A red container pierces from behind the dense frame wall, under which a mini-theater is showing a picture story book, New Changes in the Village, adapted from true Dafen stories. Visitors can have a rest here while enjoying the short historical story. The entire chamber is like a personal album which tells the story of a village rebuilding and reshaping itself into a city.


Exhibit Number 6: Oil Painting Workshop , oil painting +video installation


Leaving behind the Village Archives, visitors step into a rectangular room with many oil paintings from Dafen village hanging on two opposite walls. One side is dedicated to many colorful paintings of different genres that have been produced from the oil painting workshops. The other side displays twenty intermediate or in-process paintings on the production line of the oil painting factory. Several sets of lights highlight featured paintings.  Two other opposite walls host two canvas-projected pictures to represent a virtual dialogue between the two founders of Dafen, Huang Jiang and Wu Ruiqiu who represent two generations. The backgrounds of the two pictures also provide a sharp contrast. One is the manual workshop, and the other is a factory with a production line and a standard industrial arrangement. The pair of pictures not only contrasts the values of two generations of Dafen people, but also represents the reflections on and ambivalence towards some real issues such as commerce, art and living conditions, as well as a feeling of confidence and optimism.


Exhibit Number 7: Dafen Painters  photography light box + oil painting articles


Having gone through the oil painting workshop, visitors now enter into a narrow, yet richly arranged transition space. Suddenly, people feel like they are visiting a real painter’s studio where a dozen of Dafen painters – real-sized figures projected by light boxes on three sides of the room, are standing right beside them. Surrounded by these painters, a visitor can  feel as if he or she is part of them. Arrays of oil paintings hung from the ceiling are drying, and combined with figures in the photos, adds a sense of realism to the scene. There is a photograph by a senior Shenzhen photographer Yu Haibo, that won in the World Press Photo Contest. The photo shows the life and dreams of Dafen painters, and ties the figures and the audiences together, establishing an emotional bond between the two.


 “In a small village covering less than 0.4 square kilometers in Shenzhen, China, 8000 painters are working from their humble studios for both their livelihood and artistic pursuit. Once reserved only for the upper class, these artworks are now being introduced to the general public thanks to the hard work of these artisans… They are a crucial link of the oil painting industry chain in Dafen. They are seeking the meaning of life and the value of art in a harsh life. This situation can be seen all over the world. They moved me, and will surely touch the whole world. ”

—Yu Haibo and his series of photographs “Dafen oil painting village in

China” (World Press Photo Contest, second prize)


Exhibit Number 8: Global Industry  ready made container + video


Few people had ever entered a container, while here visitors, after enjoying Yu Haibo’s photography, have the opportunity to experience a surrealistic scenario. This is the last scene of the first episode of the trilogy. So now the mysterious container seen at the previous chamber – The Village Archive – is present again. The container looks as if it is cut apart and people can go in through a slit. In addition, the arrays of oil paintings seen at the Dafen painter’s studio now are found to be flooding into this container right through this slit.

Besides the container, there are stacks of cartons, orders and other real-world objects collected from Dafen village, as if this is the delivery warehouse. A container is a perfect metaphor of the industrial chain in today’s globalized world. Dafen’s oil paintings, like other mass-produced commodities, are shipped to places around the world via containers and it is through this process that Dafen was instantly transformed from an obscure Hakka village to a crucial production link in the global manufacturing industry chain.  


Among the goods in the containers, there are two display screens, or one screen cut into two parts. The first screen dynamically shows what it is like when Dafen’s oil paintings reach the end consumers. It could end up in a living room of a middle class family, a hotel lobby, a doorway of an office space, or even a stage setting on Broadway in New York. The other screen displays statically some data and facts regarding the industry and the very foundation of Dafen’s miracle in the manufacturing arts.


2.3 Episode 2: Dafen Transformation – Dafen Sample Experiential Zones  models + mini theatre (Exhibit 9,10,11,12)

Leaving behind the first episode of the trilogy, which is characterized by dense and closed spaces, visitors next step into an open space on the second floor. Vivacious and lovely, it represents the general style of this part of the exhibit as well as the Dafen village itself. In contrast to the previous experience, what is now seen by the audience are the dark gray walls with niches in them, and four colored boxes with similar sizes scattered among them, including the red container present before.


The dark gray model box showcases the upgrading process of Dafen village and how the Dafen Art Museum conceived the concept of “art into community”. The white box coated by recycled pigment tubes is the Regenerating Box. It shows how a number of young artists adhere to their creative artistic pursuits against the background of oil painting manufacturing. They are a critical link in Dafen’s multi-layered cultural ecology, and will play a crucial role in driving forward Dafen’s future transformation. The Dream Box, made up of recycled palettes presents, through actual working scenes, the truest dreams of the 500 painters who collectively composed the Dafen Lisa. All the boxes and little spaces above are inaccessible. Audiences only peer through the seemingly random holes on the wall, which is completely different than the “walk-and-see” experience in the first episode. There are many mini stages for viewing only. After exploring these dreams held by common people, visitors walk through colorful clouds into an extraordinary dream space.   


Exhibit Number 9: Dafen Art Museum  models+ multimedia light effects


“Miniature landscapes ”are nothing new to Chinese audiences, because it used to be a media portal through which we understood the outside world. For example, the “Window of the World” type of miniatures had satisfied the needs of many Chinese to look out to a wider world in a time when China just opened its door. Scaled models are no doubt one of the most effective miniature landscapes. In a 3×3m box, a scaled landscape with the Dafen Art Museum at the center can be set up, scrupulous visitors may have found that the open space they are now standing on is in fact a miniature of the third floor roof terrace of the art museum with a layout that simulates the village it is in.


The Dafen Art Museum is the largest village-level art museum currently in China, covering an floor area of 17,000 m2.  Construction by the Longgang District (Shenzhen) government began in 2005 and was completed in 2007. In the eyes of many people, for a place so famed for its oil painting industry, it was at very least, possible that an art museum could be built here. However, with great ambitions, and carrying on despite all the doubts and suspicions, the art museum epitomizes the local government’s effort throughout the years to constantly support infrastructure upgrades, to improve the cultural environment and drive progress in the oil painting industry.


The bold plan of building an art museum is both a witness to and a catalyst for the changes of Dafen village. The idea behind this plan was to build the museum into a powerhouse driving Dafen into a genuine cultural industry base, raising Dafen’s existing industry to a new level, improving its artistic environment, reinvigorating and unleashing the creativity and vitality of young people here by introducing more art exhibitions and art events.


The Dafen Art Museum has higher aims than merely building itself into a palace of art and aims to fulfill the mission of building the city and contributing to society. At the lower level, it tries to create an oil painting market compatible with the village’s current oil painting industry. At the upper level, it has built an open public space on top of the middle level’s standard art gallery, and extended several roads and bridges from the museum to  closed residential compounds nearby. Nowadays, the museum is still working to better integrate with the surrounding communities, restore the segregated urban fabric caused by rapid urbanization and make Dafen village an integral part of the surrounding city. The art museum itself will become a cultural center to be shared by everyone from all the neighboring communities, just like this open public space presented here. This is the dream of the Dafen Art Museum. 


Exhibit Number 10: the Regenerating Box  installation


A cube coated by a layer of white pigment tubes and brushes recycled from Dafen with color patches looming from behind, rounds out a mini gallery for peeking in. Along with the large number of Dafen’s commercial oil painting workshops and showrooms are supporting business like restaurants, cafés, tea houses and other shops for antiques, fashion and handicrafts and sprinkled among them are some original art studios with creative young artists.  Presented here in this exhibition, are some of the young emerging artists’ works from their studios in Dafen village.  Dafen’s industrial ecology is constantly evolving, and the upgrading of industry and the flourishing of supporting services has indeed added more charm and vigor to Dafen village.


Exhibit Number 11: The Dream Box  installation


This is the last mini-theater in the open space section of the exhibition. Its surface is patched up by palettes recycled from the collaborative art creation event entitled, “Dafen Lisa” which was held on January 28th, 2010. Rich and luscious colors on palettes contribute to a vivacious, magical space, and through the holes between pallets one can see a small stage setting inside. The walls are made up of colorful lining boards recycled from Dafen’s oil painting studios, and on the floor, several painting tools and common home accessories create the scene of a painter who has just been around. On the corner wall, there are two large projected images telling the dreams of those five hundred “Dafen Lisa” creators. Everyday life scenes and textual messages interweave into a vivid show.


Exhibit Number 12: Seven Colored Clouds  sculpture


The dream box is the last stop of this Dafen journey. Visitors are now proceeding downstairs with the previous scenes reflected to conceive their own cognitive maps of Dafen village. From this point on, visitors will enter into an unanticipated extraordinary space for a different experience. The space of this staircase functions as a transition from the dream box of Dafen to the dream theater of Shenzhen city. Four colorful clouds floating freely in the middle or atop of the space, and also piercing through the bright green wall. Amid this relaxing atmosphere, visitors indulge their imaginations. Brisk, vibrant colorful clouds provide a dream-like setup, the previous narrow spaces with complied information are now left behind, visitors’ minds are reset for the forthcoming new experiences. 


2.4 Episode3 Urban Theatre –“Shenzhen, Frontier for China Dreams”

Exhibit Number 13: Shenzhen, Frontier for China Dreams  urban theater


Exhibit Number 13.1   Shenzhen Time  multimedia installation


People are immediately impressed by what they see upon entering this space. This is an unexpected visual after experiencing the large-scale mural, the rich and condensed spaces of Dafen village, the fresh scene of public open space, the colorful clouds full of connotation, visitors now completely fall into the abyss of a dream. Employing a spatial arrangement similar to classic German theater, a 20-meter-long, upward slope creates a stage setting. A suspended angled wall cuts through this rectangular space precisely, intensifying the perspective effect. A torrent of digital figures flow from the high end of the slope to the lower end. This unceasing digital torrent with chronicle years popping up from the water turns this current of digital symbols into eternal time. The name Shenzhen originally means water, while the flexibility and spirit of water represents the inexhaustible vigor and vitality of this city. The ceiling is composed of mirror-like stainless steel, with artificial twists to create a scene of shimmering water reflecting the dreamlike sky. 


Exhibit Number 13.2  Shenzhen Faces  city documentary


A huge image on the right side of this large space gradually dissolves into the horizon where the water meets the sky, on which numerous eyes, faces, gestures of common Shenzhen people at work are shown. They are the Shenzhen faces. It records a day in Shenzhen, from sunrise to sunset, capturing realistic details while sampling from the big picture. The raw power of this gigantic yet youthful city is seen and felt here.

“From midnight to midnight, from sunrise to sunset. one day after the next

Shenzhen, a mega-metropolis, is running on a fast track.

The film seeks to capture the working scenes behind this bustling city to bring forth the expressions in the eyes and on the faces of common people at work.

The theme of this film is Shenzhen in action and who keeps this city running.

Working is beautiful, working is glorious, and working people are sacred and venerable.

This is the power of the city and the dignity of the city. ”

——Mou Sen


Exhibit Number 13.3 Shenzhen Details  multimedia installation


Follow the rhythm of the music and moving images offered by this large space, visitors go up against the streams. Along the way, they see four “floating stones” with projections in the digital river, each revealing some subtle details of Shenzhen. These are the fragments of memories and sample footprints of the city. The theatrical settings and stage lighting provide an atmosphere which enables the visitors to take up certain roles and immerse themselves into this dramatic scene.


Exhibit Number 13.4  Shenzhen Memories  print on weaving wood


Passing by a suspended light wall, the water seems to be cut apart and visitors find themselves in the Peach Garden – a triangular space full of tranquility for contemplation. Starry words are dropping down from the ceiling and filling the walls of the white space. Ink prints from the history achieve are externalized into this boundless space of words, these words are powerful and resonating calls for the reform and opening up of China in this experimental field of Shenzhen. They represent the mission and responsibility as well as the footprint carried by this city since its birth in 1979. The torrent of words is telling people about the pioneering experiment, an open-end expectation that is constantly evolving and renewed. These words reflect the past thirty years of Shenzhen’s history as a dream frontier in China, the bastion of reform and innovation, they tell and retell without a pause the seemingly fading memories of Shenzhen, of its past, present and future hopes. Through the projector, in between the documents from city archives, the dreams of the Shenzhen citizens are collected and highlighted, the dreams of individuals are interweaving with the dream of a country. The individual lives and a country’s epic adventure are interconnected here. This interconnection between the two scales of dreams constitutes the solid foundation for the miracles in Shenzhen. 


The cascade of words cuts through the light wall and rounds up a triangular space, running back into that previous dreamy space of water and sky. The sixty year chronology from 1979 to 2040 is beyond  only a historical record. It points directly to the future and asks, “What will Shenzhen be like in the next thirty years, and what will it be powered by?” The expectations for this great city lie in every Shenzhen citizen’s heart, and the answers are already there. The future of Shenzhen is to be driven by dreams, passion and innovation, which is reflected later on in this exhibition. When visitors stand on the balcony and take in the view, they will see those Shenzhen faces themselves: faces of the common, down-to-earth and passionate Shenzhen people. 


Exhibit Number 13.5   Postcard to Shenzhen  interactive graphic installation


On the wall of the passageway connecting the theater space to the Bazaar of Creations people will meet again the familiar face with the charming smile. This time it is not the Dafen Lisa, but a postcard to Shenzhen. She is seeing off the visitors with a smile and inviting them to write down their own dreams and expectations about this city, or anything else they would like to express. Their words will be stored, and their dreams will merge with Shenzhen and its pulsating dreams. Your dream is part of the dream of this youthful, open and inclusive city.


Exhibit Number 14  Flowing Color  sculpture


Proceeding up along the slope, turning around at the digital waterfall, visitors now enter a dark blue staircase. Going down the stairs, they see the last stroke of color hanging above, like a droplet of oil painting color fallen from the sky onto the top of the exit. This is the last scene of the dream journey of the urban theater. A complete experience of entering from the mural of “Dafen Lisa” and exiting after the telling of the dreams and stories of common people, a trip from urban village back to the city is the finale.


Exhibit Number 15: Bazaar of Creations


Shenzhen was entitled the city of design by UNESCO (United Nations educational scientific and cultural organization) in 2008. The creative design industry has long been  advanced in Shenzhen and is thriving with this youthful city. Shenzhen is also the birthplace of a host of high-tech enterprises.


In this exhibition space beneath the slope, some creative works that best represent Shenzhen’s design talent are displayed in the showcases along two side walls. The Bazaar of Creations is designed to encourage designers and high-tech enterprises to have dialogues with each other and develop more high-quality products. This exhibition space is also reserved for emerging innovative works and temporary exhibits. This is not a market for sale promotions, but a core for creative work and an interface for communication with the general public.


Exhibit Number 16 Behind a Collective Creation  film on “one painting by 1000 painters”


This is the last part of the entire exhibition. After exploring the final Episode of the trilogy and the Bazaar of Creations, visitors exit the pavilion to see a large screen composed of 28 displays built into the wall showing the scene when Dafen painters collectively created the Dafen Lisa on January 28, 2010. There are overall views of the painters working simultaneously, and close-ups of individual painters concentrating on their own work, and those touching moments when painters wrote their names, their hometowns and their dreams. These people coming from near and far, are working to make their dreams a reality in this youthful land. Through their attentive eyes and confident movement, visitors can feel the power behind this city. These twenty eight screens will also display the live scene of Dafen International Mural Festival on the 180th day of the exhibition, audiences at the World Expo can witness local and international artists painting on their individual parts of the mural wall at the Dafen Art Museum.  The Dafen international art show Interflow will also be displayed, during the mid-May Shenzhen Cultural Industries Fair period. Artworks created by artists from China and worldwide on site in Dafen will be exhibited again in the Dafen Art Museum at the homecoming exhibition.


2.5  Epilogue

EXPO 2010 Urban Best Practice Area – The Shenzhen Pavilion is a narrative story from painting to people, with a huge oil painting mural entitled the “Dafen Lisa” leading the visitors to the exhibition with its stories and content. Through exquisitely arranged exhibits and holistic artistic experiences, it touches on the unknown stories behind the oil paintings, the painter’s stories and their dreams. It also guides a journey into the Dafen village – the birth place of this huge mural – its history, present condition, industrial structure, its transformation and integration to the city. Then it introduces Dafen painters as many common dream-seekers in Shenzhen, and extends this story line from Dafen village to Shenzhen city as a whole. The faces of Shenzhen people, the mission and cultural significance of the city, are pushing its transition from village to city to a new spiritual level. Finally, it examines the driving force behind Shenzhen’s thirty years of achievement through documents and urban archives, and poses questions and expectations about the city in the upcoming thirty years. The Shenzhen Pavilion shows the young city in its thirties, as an open, inclusive one that addresses its many issues by concerning the lives and dreams of the general public, by paying attention to the well-being of the people instead of excessively showcasing technology and concentrating on visual effects which demonstrates the city’s maturity. We sincerely hope that the Shenzhen Pavilion in Shanghai leaves a rich cultural legacy to the World Expo.