This summer M WOODS continues to redefine the role of a contemporary art museum with an exhibition that challenges the very notion of “contemporary”, presenting the work of living artists alongside replicas of the Kizil Buddhist grottoes. Representing the culmination of years of archeological research lead by the Kucha Research Institute of Xinjiang and hundreds of hours of technical labor, the grottoes are crafted into immersive chambers that occupy the museum’s signature spaces. Accompanying them are a series of 120 photo documents of the Kizil grotto cluster as well as VR videos, allowing viewers to explore more of the region’s grottoes in greater depth.
The exhibition also commemorates the latest acquisitions of the M WOODS Collection, three pieces from the original Kizil grotto murals — most of which remain scattered abroad in public and private collections as a result of plundering in the early twentieth century. The addition of these works takes on further significance as M WOODS has become the first and only museum in China to possess fragments of the Kizil murals, a development with great implications especially for private museums in the country.
Presented for the first time is a selection of stone carvings sourced from ancient civilizations along Silk Road and further contextualized by Kader Attia’s Open Your Eyes, part of the initial project for his entry in dOCUMENTA (13). This juxtaposition extends the exhibition’s inquiry into cultural trauma across geographies and history. Over the course of the exhibition, M WOODS has invited four artists (Zeng Yang, Liu Yazhou, Liang Shuo, and sulumi) to respond to the grottoes from their individual perspectives and in mediums of their choice. Each is allotted a ten-day residency and may request an entirely fresh space or continue with changes made by the previous artist.