7th Shanghai Biennale

One Century of People's Square:
An Historic Retrospect

Curatorial Members: Li Xiangning, Zhang Xiaochun, Xiang Liping, Qian Zonghao
Exhibition Production: Zhang Xiaochun, Li Xiangning, Li Danfeng, Atelier Hinge
Graphic Design: Zeng Yunzhong

Shanghai, with a history of centuries, starts itself from a seaside village to a wealthy county in the Southeast, then an economic center in the Far East till today an international metropolis. Its history is no other than the one of fast urban development and rushed visitors. And the vicissitude of the People's Square area is this span of Shanghai's history in miniature.
The People's Square and the People's Park ( originally the Third Racecourse ) are located at the geometrical center of the city. This piece of land encircled by West Nanjing Road in the north, East Yan'an Road in the south, Middle Tibet Road in the east and North Huangpi Road in the west, forms an approximately ellipse, covering about one square kilometer with People's Avenue through the middle transmeridionally. This area has undergone dramatic changes during nearly one hundred and fifty years: developing from a water-sick belt full of small villages and tombs to the racecourse and entertainment center of foreign concessions, and then a square for municipal gatherings after the Liberation, till nowadays a new-style municipal cultural plaza. As the "urban parlor" of Shanghai, the favorable geographical location of the People's Square is its unique advantage for development. However, from another perspective, the historical vicissitude of the People's Square does not happen by chance. It is bound to be influenced by the overall transition of society, culture, politics and economy in Shanghai.
Through the exhibition with these historical materials and pictures about the ever-changing People's Square with centuries of history, we aim at not merely unfolding ups and downs of this urban space and buildings but also approaching the masses integrated into the history of Shanghai. It is these individuals with various identities who have jointly created the legend of oriental Shanghai. It is also their activities which have made urban space cognizable and sensible with life trace engraved.
Special thanks to Shanghai Urban Construction Archives (SUCA) and Shanghai Municipal Archives (SMA) for their strong support and cooperation to provide us with numerous precious historical atlas, construction blueprints and historical video resources.


Nervus Rerum
Video, 32 min, color, sound, 2008


Project Category
group exhibition