EMGdotART, in Shenzhen

These days, any kind of activity dedicated to creating bridges, to fighting isolation and marginalization and to connecting cultures and geographies is valuable and vital. If you then combine it with beauty, creativity and culture, something very powerful happens.

I went to visit EMGdotART, in Shenzhen, supported by EMGdotART Foundation, an Italian institution which promotes, supports, and develops the cultural exchange between East, in particular China, and West, Europe, in all the different fields of contemporary art culture, with particular attention to the visual arts and multimedia, architecture and design in all its different manifestations. I met Miranda SunPeng, deputy secretary of the Foundation and we had a deep and passionate conversation about the Foundation, its main activities, past and future interests and, above all, about the beauty of cultural and human encounters, as the one it was just happening between us. The Foundation was also born out of a meeting between two people, Professor Marino Folin and Mr. Victor Lei, founder of EMG Group, dedicated to design, architecture, and real estate supply chain for over 15 years, with branch offices in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, and Shenzhen.

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Marino Folin and Victor Lei, founders of EMGdotART Foundation, courtesy of EMGdotART Foundation

They met in 2010, in China, when they were both carrying out activities of art and culture promotion and exchange. They decided to bring together their passion into a foundation that could be able to actively promote cultural cooperation and exchange between China and foreign countries, as well as in the fields of art and design. The EMGdotArt foundation has been founded in Venice in 2013 at the ground floor of Palazzo Zen in Cannaregio, an ancient building with a history of 600 years. It has been one of the most representative building of the Renaissance.

What make this building particularly iconic for the Foundation is the fact that, in the 16th century, it was the residence of the Zen family, well known for their trading with the East.

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Historical image of Palazzo Zen, the venue of EMGdotART Foundation in Venice, courtesy of EMGdotART Foundation

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Palazzo Zen, sketches for the renovation for the venue of EMGdotART Foundation in Venice, courtesy of EMGdotART Foundation

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Palazzo Zen, renovation for the venue of EMGdotART Foundation in Venice, interior, courtesy of EMGdotART Foundation

Since the Foundation has its root in Venice and its President Marino Folin is a leading representative of the city's arts and culture scene, as Rector of Iuav University of Venice (1991-2006), Curator of Italian Participation at the VI International Exhibition of Architecture - La Biennale di Venezia (1996), President of IUAV Foundation (2006-2013), just to mention a few roles, one of the main goal is to promote high quality contemporary Chinese art and culture through the Biennale di Venezia.

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Sharing and Regeneration-Rural Regneration, 2016 Venice Architecture Biennale, courtesy of EMGdotART Foundation

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Sharing and Regeneration-Grande Canal Project, 2016 Venice Architecture Biennale, courtesy of EMGdotART Foundation

While the venue in Venice is clear, I was wondering why Shenzhen in China? Miranda's response was sharp and enlightening: Shenzhen is the future! The aim of the Foundation is to preserve and illustrate the past but oriented to the future, focusing on innovation and evolution. Some of the recent interests are in promoting and supporting topics such as the circular economy, the metaverse, the high technology and digital art.

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Sharing and Regeneration- Art and Design, 2016 Venice Architecture Biennale, courtesy of EMGdotART Foundation

A crucial activity where the old and the new meet in a constructive way is the research.

Since the president is an academician too, the Foundation highly embraces and promotes research and education. In recent years China has started and implemented several rural regeneration programs unequaled in the West, by size, continuity, and methods of intervention, aimed at the physical, economic, and social protection and at the improvement of living conditions of villages and small towns of the country far from the big urban centers. They are centers of ancient settlement and of agricultural-pastoral economy, very often inhabited by ethnic minorities, in which still survive the ways of life rooted in their linguistic, cultural, and material traditions. Among the most recent and exciting rural regeneration projects there is that of “Pengjiazhai” villages located along the west bank of the Longtan River, on the slopes of Mount Wuling, (Hubei Province, Xuan’en County) in a valley inhabited since ancient times by the Tujia Nationality, one of the ethnic minorities of China. These villages are now included in the List of Outstanding Minority Villages of China. The regenerating program consisted of two main tasks, the territorial plan, and the project of the main buildings, among which the Pan Museum of the Tujia minority. The County entrusted the project to prof. Li Baofeng of the School of Architecture and Urban Planning (HuaZhong University of Science and Technology). The projects have been developed with the support of the School of Architecture and of the Urban Planning and Research Institute of HUST, and with the active participation of the students of the School.

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Stone tablet of pengjiazhai, courtesy of EMGdotART Foundation

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Lianghekou International Joint Workshop first phase exhibition 2019, Palazzo Zen Venice, courtesy of EMGdotART Foundation

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Lianghekou International Joint Workshop first phase exhibition 2019, Palazzo Zen Venice, courtesy of EMGdotART Foundation

EMGdotART promoted the presentation of the two projects at Palazzo Zen in Venice, on the 16th International Architecture Exhibition – La Biennale of Venice 2018.

Following this first presentation, The Foundation later promoted an educational cooperation, initiated by EMGdotART supporting the academic exchange between the Southeast University of Nanjing, in charge of the regeneration plan of the village of Lianghekou, and the IUAV University of Venice, to draw up urban planning and building projects, with the joint participation of teachers and students of both the universities and the support of local authorities. The initiative was joined by Huazhong University of Technology and Chongqing University. The projects produced between 2019 and 2021 have been presented at the Exhibiton “Lianghekou. A Tujia Village of Re-Living-Together”, a Collateral Event of the 17th International Architecture Exhibition of La Biennale - Venezia (May-November 2021).

The Foundation brings into the spotlight this new face of China with its ambition to take care of local traditions and resources, while growing and nurturing a high-tech attitude towards new global dynamics, especially in the field of art, as for example, the NFT and particularly dedicated to environmental and social issues.

One of their missions is also to act as a hub for creative innovative start-up and to enable interdisciplinary dialogues through both professional and educational activities. In this regard,

for instance, the Foundation support and promote innovative manufacturing such as the 3d printing and provide advanced services for different professionals and disciplines such as in the medical field.  At the same time classes and workshops are given to teach how to make efficient and innovative use of rapid prototyping.

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3d printed artifacts, courtesy of EMGdotART Foundation

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3d printed artifacts, courtesy of EMGdotART Foundation

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Pictures of my baby printed on the coffee at EMGdotART café

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EMGdotART Foundation, interior, ThinkTank space, Courtesy of EMGdotART ShenZhen, courtesy of EMGdotART Foundation

As soon as you enter the EMGdotART Shenzhen facilities, you are welcomed in a bright, design café, where you find yourself surrounded by high quality 3d printed artifacts, which are clearly speaking about the refined, qualitative, and artistic promotion of this technology by EMGdotArt. To make your experience and perception of the Foundation even more creative and innovative, you are served a delicious coffee with your favorite picture printed by cocoa powder on it! While being skeptical to drink the face of my baby, Miranda just said: “think that you are incorporating what you love the most.” This is exactly the ambition which drives EMGdotART, which is to promote and contribute to innovation driven by culture, values, passion, and beauty.

After a tour of the whole space of the Foundation, which is a valuable piece of design, architecture, and art itself, I ended up wishing to use their high-quality working and exhibition spaces, and, most important, to collaborate in their meaningful activity of support and connection for communities of people, practitioners, and students. 


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