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Oct 02. 2012
After two years of fabrication – being shipped across the Pacific, then driven across the country – and another month to assemble on site, we were finally ready to unveil Zhang Huan’s Rising. The event was timed to coincide with his opera Semele, opening a few days later at the opera house across University Boulevard and his show, Ash Paintings and Memory Doors at the Art Gallery of Ontario. At the opening of Rising, Zhang Huan read a piece translated from Mandarin to English by Jilane Ma.
He was speaking in the first person as if the work had come alive and was addressing the audience. Zhang Huan, with roots as a performance artist, is considered to be one of the most important artists of his time and his delivery was powerful.
Good afternoon my human friends.
Thank you all for coming to my unveiling ceremony. I’m very happy to share and witness this historical moment with everyone here. My name is Rising given by a Chinese guy. In fact I don’t believe I have done much, not to mention creating anything at all, I’ve only felt my body and functions were imbalanced and crazy, it is then I have realized that I was born a beast! My dream is to leave earth and rise up to the sky, greater than any height upon clouds and air and fly to a new realm, rising to the mythical heaven, dream world of beauty and harmony. I believe this heaven is Shangri-La, sincerity creates good aura, I believe I will be living here for a long time. With years of battle, you have finally made me what I am today, humans have so much creativity and energy to toss around, you people are fantastic. You have used so much of human-resources, material and financial resources on me, as well as moving me from east earth to west earth, building me such a deluxe hotel. I wonder why? Have you thought all of this to be real? If so, Amen.
Finally I would like to say I love you all and my ancestors will thank you for this! Thank you again to those human friends who have given into this creation.
The ﬁrst meeting in Zhang Huan’s studio on December 14 was one of the high points of 2009. The very humble appearance of the studio is contrasted by the artist’s commercial and artistic success. Jim and Ian developed a rapport with Zhang Huan within minutes of the ﬁrst introduction. The discussion focused on his concept and the opportunities that could come out of integrating his concept into the design of the building itself.
To continue to grow, Westbank must search out new markets and Toronto offers many characteristics similar to Vancouver. It’s a multicultural city with a population movement underfoot – from the suburbs back to the core of the city – for better access to transit, jobs, amenities and entertainment.
Shangri-La Toronto was a similar campaign to Shangri-La Vancouver’s launch that focused on Toronto’s diverse ethnicity. It was our belief that we understood this market better than our competition and the project’s success seemed to bear this out.