.ART Registry is beyond excited to announce its sponsorship of the 14th Shanghai Biennale, one of the highest-profile contemporary arte events in Shanghai and the most established art biennale in China. In line with this, we’re thrilled to introduce the Biennale’s official digital home: CosmosCinema.art.
Ulvi Kasimov, the founder of .ART, shares his thoughts on this unique partnership: “The principles on which ‘Cosmos Cinema’ is built—light, shadow, and encounters with images over time—are inherent to the human experience of the cosmos and echo the pioneering spirit of .ART. We are honored to align with an event that not only celebrates the most forward-thinking creations in art but also provokes crucial dialogues about our existential conditions.”
About the Shanghai Biennale
The Shanghai Biennale, initiated in 1996, stands as a cornerstone in the landscape of global contemporary art. This prominent event, hosted at the Power Station of Art, Shanghai’s first state-run contemporary art museum, has evolved significantly since its inception. Marked as China’s oldest and most influential art biennale, it has played a crucial role in showcasing avant-garde art, fostering cultural exchanges, and shaping the discourse around contemporary art in Asia and beyond. Over the years, the Biennale has embraced diverse themes and perspectives, inviting a myriad of artists and intellectuals to contribute to its rich tapestry of exhibitions and discussions. This has not only elevated Shanghai’s position in the international art world but has also provided a dynamic platform for exploring and addressing critical global issues through the lens of art.
CosmosCinema.art: A Digital Portal to the Universe of Art
Launched on November 20th, the CosmosCinema.art website serves as a digital counterpart to the physical exhibition at Shanghai’s Power Station of Art, a space where the history of cinema meets modern artistic expression. CosmosCinema.art will be running until March 31, 2024, and explores the relationship between cinema and the cosmos through nineteen weekly segments, each available online for only one week. These segments include a mix of screenings and discussions, available both online and at the Power Station of Art with each week spotlighting a moving-image work by artists from the Biennale.
Weekly Screenings: 14th Shanghai Biennale films
Imagine a weekly cinematic voyage that takes you from the early imagination of space travel to the modern reflections on the cosmos. The website kicks off with a screening of four early short films, each 3 to 12 minutes long, showcasing a time when cinema was new and space travel was a dream. These films blend early film techniques with visions of space, offering a glimpse into the pioneering days of filmmaking and space exploration.
These films are not just screenings; they are conversations about our place in the cosmos. The website also provides recorded introductions and contextual information, making each piece a comprehensive educational experience. It’s an opportunity to understand the artists’ perspectives and the broader thematic concepts of the Biennale.
Week 1 at CosmosCinema.art
The ‘?’ Motorist (1906)
“The ‘?’ Motorist,” a 1906 British short silent comedy directed by Walter R. Booth, stands as a remarkable piece in the annals of world cinema history. This early trick film showcases an imaginative blend of humor and special effects that was groundbreaking for its time. The plot, featuring a couple’s whimsical escape from the police, involves their car performing fantastical feats like driving up buildings, traversing celestial bodies, and magically transforming into a horse and carriage.
Excursion to the Moon (1908)
This Spanish film, inspired by Georges Melies and Jules Verne, presents an early cinematic journey to the moon, notable for its use of Pathe Frères stencil color. “Excursion to the Moon” stands out as an innovative piece in the science fiction genre of early cinema.
A Trip to Jupiter (1909)
In “A Trip to Jupiter,” a king, influenced by his astronomical observations, dreams of a voyage to outer space. This film blends astronomy with fantasy, highlighting the imaginative scope of early 20th-century cinema.
An Interplanetary Marriage (1910)
“An Interplanetary Marriage” features a unique story of an Earth astronomer meeting a Martian for a wedding on the moon. This Italian film showcases early cinema’s ability to merge romance with space exploration.
The upcoming weeks promise an array of films from acclaimed directors like Apichatpong Weerasethakul, Bi Gan, Yin-Ju Chen, Saodat Ismailova and many more. Each film aligns with one of the Biennale’s nine thematic “palaces,” offering a new perspective on our cosmic existence.
Week 2 at CosmosCinema.art
Week 2 of the CosmosCinema.art screenings, under the theme “Freedom of Interplanetary Movement,” features two films: “Lebanese Rocket Society” by Joana Hadjithomas and Khalil Joreige, and “Afronauts” by Nuotama Bodomo.
Lebanese Rocket Society (2015, 92 mins)
“Lebanese Rocket Society” delves into the forgotten history of Lebanon’s foray into space research during the early 1960s. This documentary uncovers the story of Lebanese scientists who pursued rocket science and space exploration, a narrative lost to subsequent generations. The film is a significant archival reclamation, reminding us of a time when Lebanon’s ambitions were aligned with scientific progress and exploration, rather than conflict and turmoil.
Afronauts” (2014, 14 mins)
In contrast, “Afronauts” is inspired by the true story of Zambia’s attempt to join the space race in 1964. The film reimagines the ambitious, albeit short-lived, endeavor led by schoolteacher Edward Makuka Nkoloso to send the first African to the moon. Set against the backdrop of NASA’s Apollo 11 mission, this narrative portrays the Zambian team’s struggle for resources and recognition, highlighting the often-overlooked narratives in the history of space exploration.
Both films, screened at the Power Station of Art in Shanghai and now for a period of 7 days on CosmosCinema.art, align with the Biennale’s vision of space as a domain for nurturing humanity’s highest material and spiritual aspirations, rather than a frontier for conquest or exploitation. Through these stories, viewers are invited to reconsider the historical narratives of space exploration and the global contributions to this endeavor.
Week 3 at CosmosCinema.art
Revisiting Solaris (2007, 18 mins)
Deimantas Narkevičius’s “Revisiting Solaris” is a cinephilic exploration that engages with the profound question of whether our understanding can transcend the terrestrial boundaries that have shaped human perception.It is a thoughtful response to the fear that humanity might have reached the limits of its knowledge. The film revisits the iconic 1972 Tarkovsky adaptation of Stanisław Lem’s novel “Solaris,” a key influence in science fiction. Narkevičius creatively invites Donatas Banionis, the original lead actor, to reprise his role as Kelvin, imagining a scenario where Kelvin never returned to Earth.
The film uniquely combines new footage with historical photographs taken in 1905 by Lithuanian painter and composer Mykolojus Konstantinas Čiurlionis, weaving a narrative that extends the thematic and visual landscape of “Solaris.” Through this, Narkevičius contributes to the ongoing dialogue about Solaris’s complex representations, particularly how it addresses the specters of the past. This presentation at the Biennale offers viewers a chance to delve into the layered and speculative realms of human knowledge and its limitations.
Week 4 at CosmosCinema.art
My Little Planet (2016, 7 min, 10 sec)
Week 4 of the CosmosCinema.art screenings presents “My Little Planet” by Agnieszka Polska, a thought-provoking short film that complements the screening of Yakov Protazanov’s “Aelita” at the Power Station of Art. This selection aligns with the Biennale’s exploration of various futurisms, from utopian to ambivalent and dystopian, and the role of the cosmos in these visions.
In “My Little Planet”, Polska crafts a unique and somewhat surreal future where time is measured by the orbit of mundane objects like a cigarette butt, a bottlecap, and a sticking plaster around the sun. This intriguing narrative employs an absurdist blend of scales and contexts to underscore the arbitrary nature of the conventions that govern our perception of reality. The film’s clever use of humor and wit prompts viewers to question and reflect on often unquestioned societal norms. It subtly criticizes our collective indifference and lack of personal accountability for the current state of the world, challenging us to re-evaluate our roles and responsibilities in shaping the future.
Week 5 at CosmosCinema.art
Two Horizons (2017, 24 mins)
Saodat Ismailova’s film intricately weaves the rich tapestry of Central Asian folklore with the enigmatic realm of cosmic exploration, drawing upon the ancient Turkic oral histories of Qorqut and the modern narrative of space exploration at the Baikonur Cosmodrome. Ismailova’s work delves deep into themes of memory, spirituality, immortality, and the human quest to transcend physical boundaries. “Two Horizons” offers viewers a unique cinematic experience that hovers between the visible and the invisible, blending myths, rituals, and technological advancements.
This week’s screening at the Biennale’s “Partial Eclipse” palace invites audiences to ponder the infinite ways humans interact with and interpret the obscured forms of matter and energy in the universe, proposing an expanded understanding of what it means to be human in a world rich with unseen forces and stories.
Week 6 at CosmosCinema.art
“Foundations of the Work of the Sun” (2023, 14 mins)
Week 6 of the Shanghai Biennale at CosmosCinema.art introduces Jakub Štourač and Anna Luňáková’s “Foundations of the Work of the Sun”, an experimental film showcased in the Biennale’s “Futurisms” palace. This unique film-poem, blending “micro-essays” into a cohesive “fictional documentary,” contemplates the sun’s role in the cosmic lifecycle and its influence on celestial bodies. Drawing inspiration from G.W. Leibniz’s theory of pre-established harmony and his work in optics, the film explores the translation of sunlight into visual images through the camera lens, probing the nature of photographs as visual representations of embodied perspectives.
Accompanied by a poetic sound composition, the film navigates themes of labor, exhaustion, and utopianism, referencing works like Andrei Platonov’s “The Foundation Pit” and chronicling the life of a worker through photograms and prints. These interwoven stories collectively address the compelling question: How do we think collectively through the lens of the individual?
Week 7 at CosmosCinema.art
“Pumzi” (2009, 21 mins)
In Week 7 of the Shanghai Biennale at CosmosCinema.art presents Wanuri Kahiu’s “Pumzi”, a film that resonates with Afrofuturist ideals, seeing the cosmos as a wellspring of creativity and a haven for the oppressed. Exhibited with an installation by Christian Nyampeta, featuring a once-living tree from the Shanghai region, “Pumzi” delves into a dystopian future yet clings to the hope of redemption.
“Pumzi” is a poignant science fiction narrative set in a futuristic African community, deeply intertwined with their environment. The film’s protagonist embarks on a daring journey to rejuvenate a dying plant, prompting viewers to ponder the sacrifices necessary for nature’s preservation and the ramifications of a world devoid of mutual giving. It’s a visionary tale that extends beyond individual or collective lifetimes, urging us to consider a future where humanity and nature exist in a balanced and reciprocal relationship.
Week 8 at CosmosCinema.art
“Random Access” (2023, 14 mins)
In Week 8 at CosmosCinema.art, as part of the Shanghai Biennale, He Zike’s “Random Access” is showcased under the “Reflexology of the Distance” theme. This film, set in Guiyang, the site of the world’s largest radio telescope, unravels in the wake of a data center crash. It blends science fiction with reality, contrasting ancient memories and future visions amidst a technologically evolving landscape. The narrative follows two characters through a city in flux, reflecting on society’s increasing technologization and its impact on our connection to the cosmos. “Random Access,” a collaboration with Cinevoyage and commissioned by VH AWARD of Hyundai Motor Group, offers a profound exploration of the digital era’s influence on human perception and existence.
Week 9 at CosmosCinema.art
“A Demon that Slips into Your Telescope While You’re Dead Tired and Blocks the Light” (2020, 54 mins)
Stay Tuned! Join us each week at CosmosCinema.art for a new release and be part of a global community exploring the intersection of art, cinema, and the cosmos.