This is the ‘house’ that Prada has fully restored in the heart of Shanghai and currently houses the Goshka Macuga exhibition, “What Was I?” We like the idea of exploring what we are, were and might become (the quote from Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, 1818) – and so this curated collection of works, including three of Macuga’s and other work from the Fondazione Milano collection delivers hefty thought-provoking, dark, wry just how we like it. Rong Zhai, is a rather spectacular garden villa and was built circa 1899-1910 and has all the lush intimacy of that beaux-arts, arts and craft and then with later additions – 1920s period. The dark walnut, inlaid paneling through the villa and the solid almost chinoiserie-esque staircase and windows are the perfect foil for the modernity of this cleverly curated Abstract art. The experience feels experimental, out of the comfort zone because at the centre of “What Was I?” is the exploration of what comes next, post humanity, post apocalyptic. The collapse of the world. Yes perhaps inevitable… but as we go down we will take Turi Simeti’s, Segno Rossi, 1970 (Red Sign) and Rachel Whiteread’s, Untitled (Convex) 1993 high density foam rubber mattress leaning so nonchalantly on the eau de nile painted wall. So anyway that was Wednesday morning in Shanghai. A Prada moment. Go see it.
by Alison Veness