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  • Jan 29, 2020

Techne Triennial Indefinitely Postponed As Coronavirus Outbreak Forces Beijing Museums To Close

Preparations for the inaugural Techne Triennial at Beijing’s Central Academy of Fine Arts Museum have been temporarily suspended due to the coronavirus outbreak. Pictured: Staff measuring the temperature of incoming passengers at Wangfujing Station of Beijing Rail Transit on January 26. Photo by

The inaugural Techne Triennial, slated to open on February 20 at the Central Academy of Fine Arts Museum (CAFAM) in Beijing, has been indefinitely postponed due to the Wuhan coronavirus outbreak, which has spread across China and resulted in at least 132 confirmed deaths in the last month. As part of the Chinese government’s disease-control measures, all Beijing cultural institutions have been shut down until further notice.

In an email addressed to “friends and colleagues,” Zhang Ga, director of the CAFA Center for Art & Technology and the curator of the Triennial, apologized for the delay and explained that organizers “will work individualy [sic] with all involved parties on the details of logistic rearrangements.” Attached to the email was a short letter of apology, dated January 23, written by CAFAM director Zhang Zikang to lenders for the exhibition. Both stated that preparations for the exhibition would resume pending containment of the outbreak.

Titled “Topologies of the Real,” the Techne Triennial is slated to feature more than 130 international artists, including Hito Steyerl and Shen Xin, whose practices explore perspectives on technological advancement and conceptions of reality. A second iteration of the large-scale media-art survey “Art in Motion: Masterpieces with and through Media,” staged at the ZKM | Center for Art and Media in Karlsruhe from July 2018 to January 2019, is expected to travel to CAFAM as a follow-up exhibition to the Techne Triennial. Neither CAFAM nor ZKM have commented on the impact of the outbreak on their collaboration.

Public health authorities around the world have been on high alert due to the coronavirus, which has infected 5,974 people in mainland China according to official tallies, with more cases confirmed in 17 other countries and territories, including the neighboring regions of Hong Kong and Macau, as well as Japan, Thailand, Germany, France, Australia, and the United States.

Ophelia Lai is ArtAsiaPacific’s associate editor.

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