Shanghai’s brisk winter season is perfect for a cultured day out with the family. In this spirit, we checked out Mumbling Mud, an art exhibition at K11 on Huaihai Lu. Featuring sprayed drapings, furniture and industrial waste by German artist Katharina Grosse, Mumbling Mud is an interactive exhibition that welcomes audience participation and fills your mind with much-needed brightness and color.
Here’s a look inside this family-friendly show.
Industrial waste near the entrance of the museum. Image by Mandy Tie/Urban Family
Out of all five installations, we enjoyed two interactive works the most. The first is a collection of industrial wastes assembled near the museum entrance. You might struggle to find the dusty path – an integral part of the piece – which allows you to walk over the artwork. The sense of obstacle continues as you confront the next interactive piece of the installation: a giant piece of sprayed fabric draped from ceiling to floor. By entering through one of the gaps in the fabric, you are enveloped by a kaleidoscopic maze of rich tones and textures.
Outside the draped clothes. Image by Mandy Tie/Urban Family
Inside the jungle of fabric and colors. Image by Mandy Tie/Urban Family
Notably, Grosse had set up the artworks on site with the help of her team, spraying material surfaces layer after layer to achieve the vibrancy. In a way, these works are deliberately designed to entice the audience to intercept and play within the space around them. In Grosse’s own words, Mumbling Mud is "not complete without people."
The way we engage with everyday objects is also interrogated. Grosse has covered furniture items – couch, chairs and bookshelves – with spray paint. Here, questions are raised such as, "Have they lost their functionality? Where does art end and life begin?"
Living room furnitures and windbreaker, sprayed. Image by Mandy Tie/Urban Family
Born in Freiburg, Germany in 1961, Katharina Grosse is known for her monumental spray paintings and installations. Grosse graduated from the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf, a prestigious art institution whose alumni includes pioneering artists such as Joseph Beuys, Gerhard Richter and Anselm Kiefer. In her career, Grosse has exhibited widely across Europe and the US, and Mumbling Mud marks her first solo exhibition in mainland China.
We appreciated the uniqueness of works commissioned for Mumbling Mud, though the price (RMB120) is high considering there are only five pieces on display. If you attend the show and have feedback, be sure to ask the invigilators for a questionnaire to complete at the end of your visit.
[Cover image by Mandy Tie/Urban Family]