The phrase "Why Not Ask Again" is a bid, and a query, whose ascending, joyously twisting arc embraces the maneuvers, disputations and stories that contain and encode the turbulences and transports of our time. A listener eavesdropping on deep space walks out of the pages of the recent science fiction novel written in Chinese, The Three Body Problem by Liu Cixin. A wanderer steps out into the deep time of eternity and the straight path of a police bullet in the terminal sequence of the picaresque Bengali film Jukti, Takko aar Gappo (Reason, Debate and a Story) from 1974 by Ritwik Ghatak. They embody the spirit of a mobile triangulation between reason, intuition and the fabulous that the 11th Shanghai Biennale seeks to discover, transmit, and learn from.
The layered perspectives in the miniature painting traditions of South Asia are an operational key for the exhibition, opening it to the braiding of varied temporal rhythms and spatial planes. Sometimes this makes place for extraordinarily discordant eruptions of the ordinary.
Walking the floors of the Power Station of Art will mean undertaking a hundred itineraries through Shanghai, Hanoi, Dakar, Fukushima, Ramallah, Lahore, Guatemala City, Tehran, Dubai, Stockholm, Dhaka, and many more unexpected byways, basements and bus stops of our present.
Four terminals will propose four condensations at the edges of the perceptional, the bodily, the fabulist and the hibernating.
Seven infra-curatorial layers epiphytically folded within the biennale will interrupt, leaven and relay resonant and dissonant lines of enquiry. They gather a constellation of emergent curatorial intelligences from Lagos, Moscow, Delhi, Hangzhou, Bangalore, Istanbul and Paris.
51 Personae will invite others to meet them on their chosen ground. This strand entangles the biennale in the magical and lyrical layers of everyday life of Shanghai. Chen Yun, with Dinghaiqiao Mutual Aid Society, coordinates this extensive project.
Theory Opera will shift the sensory and auditory rhythm of walking, stopping, resting, chatting and looking through an accelerated operatic turn within the exhibition in order to explore the sensation of thought. These are live scenarios at the intersections of works throughout the duration of the biennale. Liu Tian and Yao Mengxi co-ordinate this sequence.
Like a listener scanning deep space jolted by a signal from a distant life form or a talkative wanderer interrupted by a brief aphorism, the 11th Shanghai Biennale asks, again, “How do questions act in the world?”