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Sunday 18th of September 2016

Landed in Shanghai Pudong Airport and after a long commute to the centre, I went to the hotel and dropped the suitcases and the artwork. I won’t be installing the piece at the museum until tomorrow morning and will have the whole day to explore the city. I have a few reference points and places I would like to go see, but I don’t know what to expect, considering that on top of that I don’t speak the language and that the place looks like nothing I have ever seen before, I can happily put on my tourist hat and walk outside.

Outside the weather is lovely and a glorious sunshine brings everything to life: leaving the tall skyscrapers of Zhongshan Park behind, on a short cab ride, I am off to the Bund and the stunning view of the other side of the city, beyond the Huangpu river.

Behind the shiny and contemporary look of a modern metropolis, Shanghai is still constellated with traces of a much older past; in stark contrast with the reassuringly powerful shiny steel and the crystal of the new corporate developments, the dark wood of tiny little houses and shops, the gold painted temples and the lavish decorations of the former colonial villas, surrounded by a maze of secondary alleys or fenced off behind the bas-reliefs of tiled walls, seem to be witnessing in silence a complete different story.

So much seems to be happening in the streets. Like many other cities where the theatre of life seems to be taking pace eminently outside, Shanghai offers a caleidoscopic show of the human affairs.

I am fascinated by the silent waves of electric scooters running everywhere and transporting everything. I think of the busy yet loud rumble of the scooters in the centre of Rome, Naples, Palermo and wonder why isn’t everyone using electric engines instead.

After a brief visit to the M50 art hub, where I arrive too late to visit the Datumsoria show at the Chronus Art Center, I slowly make my way back through the last open galleries, to the hotel to go plan for the day after.