Quanzhou Museum of Contemporary Art, ...

Quanzhou Museum of Contemporary Art, Fujian Province, PRC

Posted in the South Pasadena Forum

Kurt Emil Aanensen

Artesia, CA

#1 Mar 22, 2013
Open Letter to:
Brian Aamoth
Project Architect
Quanzhou Museum of Contemporary Art, Fujian Province, PRC
Gehry Partners, LLP

Dear Mr. Brian Aamoth
I receive emails every day, Mr. Aamoth, encouraging me to seek out a meeting with the Project Architect, at Gehry LLP, responsible for the design conceptualization and site selection process of the proposed QuanZhou Museum of Contemporary Art complex.Some of the most frequently asked questions posed in the emails I receive from concerned citizens of QuanZhou daily are whether Gehry Partners LLP was, or continues to be, involved in the site selection process, whether public opinion was sought, or taken into account, in the design conceptualization and site selection process, and if this process remains ongoing or has now been completed. Others have written to request that I ascertain whether the published architectural design was specifically conceptualized to integrate with or, as they suspect, to juxtapose the historic downtown cityscape and skyline of QuanZhou.
Public opinion in QuanZhou is now sharply polarized with regards to the published design concept due to the growing perception that the proposed museum complex would occupy an historic downtown site which obviates the demolition of historic buildings. QuanZhou citizen’s emails comment on the perceived irony of destroying a portion of their architectural history to make way for a museum that is being promoted as a space to enshrine and publicly exhibit Artistic and Cultural Expressions. Citizens doubt that it will be possible for the museum complex to achieve the goals espoused by the project’s promoter, renowned Chinese “gun- powder Artist” Cai Guo-Qiang, who moved to New York City in 1995.
While many of the QuanZhou citizens who have sent me emails express their admiration for the creativity exhibited in the Gehry Partners museum design concept they are nonetheless clearly offended that the Gehry design in no way alludes to or honors their seafaring-merchant culture nor references in any way their shared heritage or unique identity. QuanZhou is after all the principal port from which the Minan Culture embarked upon and established the Maritime Silk Road. Ibn Battuta wrote that the harbor at Zaitun (QuanZhou ) exceeds the port of Alexandria, Egypt, in the number of ships at anchor and the commerce exchanged. QuanZhou citizens have successfully built upon the solid foundations of values and traits passed down through succeeding generations. These qualities and traits which were vital to the success and permanence of the Maritime Silk Road as a conduit for trade and commerce are the same characteristics that even today distinguish the citizens of QuanZhou as consummate international merchants.
The cultural idiosyncrasies and traits which even today distinguish the people of QuanZhou have won them acclaim and renown throughout the world. Citizens of QuanZhou are known for their openness and readiness to accept, respect and appreciate all peoples, irrespective of race, color, national origin, creed or customs. These qualities and values are at the core of why the city ranks today among China’s most prosperous industrial manufacturing centers and hub for both regional and international trade and commerce.
Marco Polo, Ibn Battuta, Giovanni Marignolli and Odoric of Pordenone each described the Port of QuanZhou –Zaitun with flourishing admiration in their travelogues which continue to capture the imaginations of readers.
The proposed QuanZhou Museum of Contemporary Art complex is today a $168 million dollar project who’s Promoters and Architects lack of communication and cultural sensitivity to the public has become the fertile soil from which public speculation and discord is certain to continue to grow until the public’s demands for reliable information is answered and satisfied.

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