The documentary images suggest that the commissioning program operated as an international survey of modernism, or rather, a comparative survey of different (but strangely similar) modernisms from around the world. The park is commendable at a formal level for the coherence of its sculptural program. Without direct access to the site, it is difficult to assess how the sculptures function within the broader context of touristic entertainment. It is, however, possible to say that the park succeeded in creating a distinctive place, attracting in excess of half-a-million visitors every year.
One of the park’s goals consists of “fostering a deeper understanding of the art of sculpture in a contemporary setting.” This is accomplished to some degree through the exposure of audiences to the commissioned works. It is also realized in the residency program and sculpture workshop, and through the Yuehu Museum of Art (on site) and its acquisition and exhibition of contemporary sculpture. Having said all that, it should be noted that the entry fee of RMB 120 is a little on the high side, possibly deterring access for many visitors. It is also unclear how different visitors experience the park. Is it experienced as a site for mass-consumption? Is it experienced as a site for aesthetic contemplation of experiments in form? In any case, it is less popular than Happy Valley Shanghai, the neighboring theme/amusement park. Other measures of the park’s success are the awards it won for China’s Outstanding Public Sculpture Project in 2007, 2008 and 2009. Presumably, the park sits well with Shanghai’s aspirations to become a world art capital on a par with Berlin, London, or New York.
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