International exhibitions

International 2010 Archives

The Nature of Cities
United Nations Pavilion, Shangai (China)

04 - 31.07.2010


07.09 - 25.11.2012

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Press release

Art Works For Change is proud to announce The Nature of Cities, a group video installation created for the United Nations Pavilion at World Expo 2010 in Shanghai, China. Guided by the Expo theme "Better City, Better Life" the exhibition presents 16 short videos from artists, animators and architects from around the world addressing the theme of urban biodiversity. The exhibition is presented through the generous support of the Adobe Foundation and will be the first created by Art Works for Change in Asia.

The exhibition illustrates the relationship between the urban and natural environments, proposing new ways forward that acknowledge the necessity of human habitats and the fragile state of our ecosystems. Created with design and previsualization by Zoetrope Aubry Productions, the exhibition is presented as a series of six looped videos played across six separate monitors divided in four parts: "The City as Metabolism", "Cities Liquid Assets: Water", "Why Cities Need Nature", and "Nature as Model and Mentor".

We are extraordinarily excited to stage The Nature of Cities in a setting as visible as the Shanghai World Expo, where it is expected to be viewed by roughly one million visitors over the course of the month" explained Director and Chief Curator Randy Jayne Rosenberg. "China is a community that is critical to the advancement of this cause, and it is our sincere hope that these visitors leave with an understanding of how cities can exist in a way that supports both people and the planet."

Selected projects include the concept work by Vincent Callebaut Architectures, Dragonfly, A Metabolic Farm for Urban Architecture, which explores how to bring the garden back to an urban environment and rethink the durability of the city and food production in a vertical farm modelled after a dragonfly wing. Slurb by Marina Zurkow, employs the technique of presenting anthropomorphic figures to address grave social concerns. In this case, aquatic humans in a post-apocalyptic flooded city interact in a darkly whimsical animated panorama. Cao Fei, in the Birth of RMB City, reflects on China's recent urban and cultural explosion, fusing ancient and modern Chinese icons, and blurring the distinction between fantasy architecture and the rapidly developing contemporary Chinese cities. As a final example, Anthony Discenza's Drift highlights the fleeting and arbitrary nature of much of contemporary urban planning by presenting city blocks as a constantly shifting video mosaic.

The exhibition


The Nature of Cities, United Nations Pavilion, Shangai

© ArtCatalyse International / Marika Prévosto 2012. All Rights Reserved

Exhibition 4 - 31 July 2010. United Nations Pavilion, World Expo 2010 - Oakland, California - Shangai (China).

Part 1: The City as Metabolism
A city's metabolism is the sum of countless physical and chemical processes that comprise its pavement and parks, rivers and runways, trucks and trees, lawns and landfills. They breathe in and out, just as we do. Cities are born, and cities can die.

Part 2: Citie's Liquid Assets: Water
Water is the lifeblood of cities, nourishing not just us, but all that lives. Water keeps cities cool, provides a sanctuary, transports wastes, and grows food. Even when we don't see it - when pipes, sewers, and streams run hidden from view - water provides these gifts, without pause, day and night.

Part 3: Why Cities Need Nature
When birds and butterflies cannot survive in a city, it is a bad sign for humans. It means the basic ingredients for life - clean air and water, and a diversity of life - is threatened. Il means we have despoiled our natural world, cripping its ability to filter air and water, fend off pests, pollinate flowers, moderate temperatures, and perform dozens of other "services" upon which we rely daily.

Part 4: Nature as Model & Mentor
Cities have a lot to learn from nature: how it produces its own food, uses only energy from the sun, provides heating and cooling, protexts itself to severe weather, and generally creates conditions conducive to life. Nature can teach us how to design buildings that require no air conditioning, even in hot climates. It can teach us how to clean water without harsh chemicals. In can teach us how to live abundantly while creating zero waste.

Artists on view
Allora & Calzadilla; Vincent Callebaut Architectures;
Rob Carter;
Catherine Chalmers; Ri Crawford; Anthony Discenza; Cao Fei;
Lane Hall & Lisa Moline;
Katja Loher;
Kevin Nolting & Team;
Sven Pahlsson; Kahn/Selesnick; Molly Schwartz; Marina Zurkow.