Julia Trogani - July 20, 2016

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen notices for incredible museum exhibits and thought I’ve got to get to that before its gone and not made it. Well, not this time. And the trip was well worth it.

After having dinner in Winchester on Friday night, in a spur of the moment decision, we decided to swing into Boston to the MFA to finally see the Megacities Asia exhibit which was closing on Sunday. We had seen many amazing photos and articles about it, we knew we had to catch it before it ended. So very happy we did! Megacities is a vast, visually captivating exhibit of large-scale installations and sculptures that extended not only to multiple floors of the museum but outside and into the city itself.

Eleven artists from rising megacities in Asia were represented. The artists came from Beijing, Shanghai, Delhi, Mumbai, and Seoul, all cities of 10 million residents or more. All of the artist employed the technique of Accumulation: collecting objects and grouping them in a way that evokes the experience of life in these cities. Using items like backpacks, plastic bags, bamboo scaffolding and stainless steel kitchen equipment, each artist had a very individual response to life in a “Megacity” to convey.

The most widely known sculptor in the show is artist and political dissident Aiweiwei of China. His piece Forever, made of Forever brand bicycles, references the rapid and radical growth of the Chinese middle class and their preference for cars over bikes. In this piece he asks “what is eternal in such a rapidly changing urban landscape?”

A number of the artists made statements about mass consumption in their work. Aaditi Joshi finds beauty in the trash of Mumbai. She celebrates her city by a creating colorful cloud of fused, single use plastic bags while Seoul’s Han Seok Hyun’s Supernatural created agreen” mountain of consumer products.

Another prevailing theme was change and progress. Asim Wahqif of Delhi used the traditional materials of bamboo, jute and cotton to create his structure.

By adding electronic sounds that activates as you move through the piece, the artist illustrates  that “tradition and innovation are not mutually exclusive”.

The late artist Hema Upadhyay created a beautiful and poetic collection with clay birds painted like migrating species to represent the immigration of people to these large centers. In each of their beaks are quotations gathered from numerous sources that “speak to the hopes and experiences of new arrivals in Mumbai.”

By far, the most visually arresting exhibit was Chaosmos Mandala by Choi Jeong Hwa. Covering a room in Mylar paper, the artist installed a rotating disc with a multicolored hanging chandelier that moved, giving us the incredible effect of walking inside a kaleidoscope. Truly dazzling. And having the chair to sit in the room allows the viewer become a part of the spectacle – pure fun.

Outside the museum was another of Choi Jeong Hwa’s works called “Breathing Flower”. This glowing kinetic sculpture opened and closed its petals periodically, emphasizing the interplay between what is natural and what is artificial.

Beyond all that I took away from this exhibit about life in a megacity, there was one other important lesson and that is: make the time. Don’t miss what artists in Asian Megacities would like to communicate through their art, or the opportunity to explore the intersection of fashion and technology  or the chance to see ancient Nubian adornments.

I know we will make the time and be back soon.

If you’d like to learn more about this exhibit, check out these articles:

Megacities Asia Exhibit at Museum of Fine Arts Boston – MFA Website

What The Giant, Polyester Lotus Flower At The MFA Says About Life in Asia’s Megacities – WBUR

Gigantic Installations Captivate at ‘Megacities Asia’ Show – Artnet



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*For youths ages 7–17, admission is free during weekdays after 3 pm, weekends, and Boston public school holidays; otherwise admission for youths is $10.

Price of admission includes all-day access to galleries and special exhibitions, free guided tours and gallery talks, and one free repeat visit within 10 days for full price Adult, Senior, and Student tickets only.

Holidays and Closing

The Museum will be closed on the following holidays:

  • New Year’s Day (January 1)
  • Patriots’ Day (third Monday in April)
  • Independence Day (July 4)
  • Thanksgiving (fourth Thursday in November)
  • Christmas Day (December 25)

The Museum will close early at 5 pm on the following days:

  • Thanksgiving Eve (November 23, 2016)
  • Christmas Eve (December 24)
  • New Year’s Eve (December 31)



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