Listening to Finland Multiple Dimension


Minsheng Lecture


Gao Shan, Cao Yu


Consulate General of Finland in Shangha, Business Finland, Shanghai Minsheng Art Museum

Setting up the Site from Zero to Infinity

Guests: Gao Shan, Cao Yu
Co-Hosts: Consulate General of Finland in Shanghai, Business Finland, Shanghai Minsheng Art Museum
Date: November 22, 2020
Time: 14:30-16:30
Multimedia Hall (1F), Shanghai Minsheng Art Museum


.For the public health, the event requires real-name registration.
.Please bring your ID and wait in line at the admission.
.Before your entrance, you should get your temperature measured and register your information.
.Please wear a face mask the whole time during your visit. If you are experiencing a fever, cough, or short of breath, please understand that admission will not be granted.
.Please arrive 15 minutes before the start of the event.

2020 marks the 70th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Finland. Coincidently, the current exhibition in Shanghai Minsheng Art Museum is the great Finnish contemporary artist duo Tommi Grönlund and Petteri Nisunen’s first solo exhibition ever held in Asia. During this exhibition, Shanghai Minsheng Art Museum collaborates with the Consulate General of Finland in Shanghai and Business Finland to launch the series of public education activities “Listening to Finland” in honor of the 70th anniversary of China-Finland diplomatic relations. This series of public education activities will cover diverse aspects of Finland, including art, architecture, design, education, lifestyle, people’s relation with nature, etc., in order to panoramically reveal the contemporary cultural climate of Finland and bring in new energy to the current conversation between China and Finland. Hopefully the audience can be inspired to have more perspectives on the current exhibition.

Petteri tuning the work on site.

The Finnish contemporary artist duo Grönlund-Nisunen’s solo exhibition “Flow with Matter” at Shanghai Minsheng Art Museum combines natural science and architecture, merging shapes, sculpture, architecture, movement, sound into interdisciplinary fields of mathematics, optics, physics, and neuroscience. Through their unique creative expression, they transform the invisible phenomena into visible and sensible matters. The exhibition has lasted about 6 months and attracted over 80,000 visitors who left complimentary remarks. Usually, what a museum displays are finished work that takes lengthy effort of the museum member to connect the artists (creator) and the audience (viewer). Coincidentally, this exhibition clashed with the global pandemic, which added to the challenges during the exhibition setting up process. But the crisis also inspired us to prepare about the future.
On November 6, Petteri Nisunen completed his quarantine in Shanghai and finally arrived at the exhibition site for the first time since it opened 5 months ago. Due to the pandemic, the museum had to set up the exhibition while communicating with the artists online. After 5 months, Petteri finally got the chance to adjust all the work on site. Spatial experience is a vital part of their works. The only way to get to know their work is to be in it. Petteri was very satisfied with the museum’s work, except that the sound from “High Frequency Installation” was a bit too penetrating, and the sound from “Electromagnet” was a bit fuzzy. He paced inside these two works and listened carefully, then he opened the monitor boxes and consulted the Finnish technology support. After testing various technical errors, he eventually got the ideal sound.

Setting up the exhibition before opening

Five months ago, the museum team was facing enormous pressure during the setting up process: Petteri Nisunen was unable to come to Shanghai, the clock was ticking, the uncertainties threatening…
“The absence of artist unsettled the setting up process. After thorough discussion, we decided to prioritize the completeness of the first floor, and set up as much as possible on the second floor. During the process, one of the most difficult things is reading various diagrams. More than half of the works were brought or purchased in China. The team witnessed the whole process of setting up the works starting from the blueprint, to selecting materials, and eventually to displaying.” Recalled by Gao Shan, the head of this program at Shanghai Minsheng Art Museum.
“Pneumatic Landscape” is the largest work of the exhibition. The museum team replaced the nylon fabric with the lighter polyester fabric, and managed to make it rise and fall within the ideal interval of time. While setting up “Plane”, the team had to horizontally straighten up 258 33-meter piano wires and fixed them on both sides, but it took 8 people to lift up the traction machine on one side. “Liquid Diagram” was the first work the team set up, but only 2 out of 12 installations met the artist’s demand. The museum team even hired the professional technicians from East China Architecture and Design Institute to investigate the weight-bearing problem the steel girder might have due to the 8 steel plates that each weights 130kg. Though various problems ebbs and flows, Shanghai Minsheng Art Museum managed to present 16 out of 21 works at the pre-opening.

Setting up the exhibition.

Petteri Nisunen was still absent in the following 2 months. Before the official opening, “Rails” was still unfinished, bothered by various problems. Gao Shan said: “Their works are planted in the space, closely associated with its surrounding environment. Echoing, the floor, and the wall…every detail is indispensable.” Petteri decided the exhibition place for “Spring Field” in the last November. But artists and curators usually need to consider the audience’s visiting route and the relationship between the adjacent works, and whether the two sound installations match. Since online communication limited the artist to feel the space, the museum team had to wait until they receive the artist’s confirmed position map. While setting up “Color Mixer”, except from two LED that was shipped from Europe, the rest aluminum materials were a mix of European standard and Chinese standard. The artists took some time to make the decision out of pursuit of perfection, and eventually they chose to use only Chinese-standard aluminum materials.
Just as the “flow” in the name of the exhibition, the job of museum is to construct a real connection between people and space, and lead the visitors to feel and to think. The special experience of setting up made us realize the possibility to work while communicate online, but also revealed the limitations. In the last 6 months, we have been in the cycle of “setting up, visiting, setting up” continuously. Each exhibition demands a new methodology. The special experience also inspired us to more actively form “public awareness” and to encourage the audience to spontaneously take part in it. In this talk, the museum team is going to share about their stories during the setting up process. The audience is invited to join us, share with us, talk with us, and discuss with us. Together we are going to witness a site constructed from zero to infinity.

About the guests

Gao Shan

Gao Shan works at the Exhibition Department, Shanghai Minsheng Art Museum. He graduated from Shandong University of Art majored in Mural Painting in 2007, and in 2013 he obtained Diplôme National Supérieur d'Expression Plastique (DNSEP) and graduated from School National Superior Art and Design Nancy. In 2014, he got Post Diplôme, taking part in the globalization and creation program of Paul Devautour. In 2013 he won Dijon Prize issued by Dijon government and Image Work Prize issued by Rotary International.

Cao Yu

Cao Yu is a tech fan born in 1980s and now lives in Shanghai. After he graduated from East China Normal University, he was an IT teacher at university. Since 2007 he has been engaged in the audiovisual service industry, and has been focusing on providing technical service and solutions for contemporary / new media art exhibition.