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Eternal Offerings: Chinese Ritual Bronzes
A Special Exhibition Designed by Oscar-Winning Artistic Director Tim Yip
March 13, 2023
China, Asia, Gui food vessel, 11th century BCE, Bronze, Bequest of Alfred F. Pillsbury, 50.46.8
March 4–May 21, 2023
Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday-Sunday: 10am-5pm
General Admission $20;
Contributor Member+ Free (additional tickets $16);
Youths 17 and under Free
Used to make offerings to heavenly and ancestral spirits, bronze vessels held great ritual significance in ancient China. Mia’s Chinese art curator Liu Yang and renowned Oscar-winning art director/film designer Tim Yip (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon) have created an immersive experience to engage the senses featuring 150 bronze objects from Mia’s collection. Lighting Design by A.J. Weissbard.
This is an exhibition of dualities: light and dark, ancient and present, heavenly and earthly. Ritual and ceremony maintained the rigid hierarchy that flowed from the heavens to the king, and from the courts to the people. Each of seven galleries embodies a facet of the rituals enacted to honor the divinities, from the solemnity of the temple, to the intoxication of lavish banquets, and the progression leads you into a world where art collides with the aesthetics of theater and film.
You arrive into a world of wildness, featuring bronze birds, tigers, and mythical beasts. This liminal space represents animism, shamanism, divination, and the worship of gods and ancestors, where no division between the human and the divine exists.
You depart surrounded by still pictures and 3D scans of the intricate surface ornamentation of various bronze vessels, offering an even closer look at these mysterious but significant motifs. Intact objects set on a mirror correspond to the bronze shards seen in the first gallery, a metaphor for completion of the spiritual journey through “Eternal Offerings.” The illusion created by the mirrors also hints at the impact of modern Chinese archaeological excavations, which make possible the reconstruction of an ancient history shrouded in the mists of memory.
Though each room is its own production, they are sequential and thematic, stages of a full ritual ceremony. A soundscape, dramatic lighting, dazzling projections, and painted images animate each multisensory space.