Jasphy Zheng: Stories from the Room


7 November 2020 – 3 January 2021

Rockbund Art Museum, Shanghai

Rockbund Art Museum is very pleased to announce our collaboration with Jasphy Zheng on Stories from the Room (Shanghai), 2020, a newly commissioned project initiated by the artist and supported by RAM CURTAIN New Commissions Series. Invited by Larys Frogier, director of Rockbund Art Museum, Stories from the Room is an ongoing work conceived by Jasphy Zheng, who will present her two-year Stories from the Room project as a temporary installation hosted by the museum. Her project will be occupy the museum building during its temporary closure from 2020.11.07 to 2021.01.03. With the current situation of uncertainty, where we are subjected to varying degrees of isolation, the project is a process to connect various places and people together, beginning with the motivation to archive a growing collection of personal writing responding to lived experiences of the current ‘new normal’. Re-defining the engagement between artist, institution and the audience by going beyond the conventional exhibition structure, Stories from the Room will be extended through the As you go… roads under your feet towards the new future research platform initiated by independent curator Biljana Ciric, and the project will be presented across multiple countries including Japan, Australia, China, Kazakhstan, Serbia and Ethiopia.


Initially staged at the CCA Kitakyushu early this year, Stories from the Room was first realized as a response to the outbreak of the pandemic. The project has since expanded as a concept beyond a traditional archival in collaboration with a community of contributors spanning different continents and regions. Through this dialogue, the archive encompasses many different forms and languages through each encounter with a different public space – many of these spaces have faced different degrees of opening and closure that have influenced how the audience is able to engage with her project. Participants have been encouraged to contribute daily to share personal observations, memories, and reflections, with each contributor having a dedicated folder as a permanent part of the archive. In this way, Zheng provides a vital conduit for a diverse collection of voices to convene together in order to express, challenge, or respond to the difficulties of our current situation. Through each iteration, the archive raises different questions, reflecting the divergent realities and experiences of people and places who contribute to the development of this project.


In the moment of closure before the Rockbund Art Museum’s renovation, the artist has fabricated a series of delicately-made copper objects to occupy the space for Stories from the Room (Shanghai), 2020. As custodians of the archive, we will continue the work of updating and regularly maintaining the archive as it grows through the iteration that occupies our space in Shanghai. Scattered across the floors of our empty museum building, the metallic objects add a sculptural dimension to the project for audiences to explore freely. This subtle interaction with the museum adds another layer to the project as slowly, long-lasting ties begin to emerge between our staff and the archive. We sincerely welcome you to join this journey, exploring questions related to the boundaries between public and privacy, distance and intimacy during these uncertain times. May we embrace the uncertainties and challenges together. Please note that we do not accept on-site registration, kindly make an appointment before your visit. Access is limited. For more information, please refer to the rules and information available at “Booking Registration” below.


Stories from the Room (Shanghai), 2020 is produced with generous support from Longlati Foundation.


A Letter from Director


Rockbund Art Museum is sincerely touched to engage with, host and to share Stories from the Room, a long term project by the female artist Jasphy Zheng, who openly calls individuals from different parts of the world, in order to archive and visually materialize individual stories and share life experiences during the pandemic.

In the context of the Rockbund Art Museum’s prolonged closure due first to planned renovation and then with the impact caused by the pandemic, the beauty of Jasphy Zheng’s art project has unfolded into a subtle and intimate way of engaging with art during these times.

Indeed Stories from the Room is not a conventional exhibition, but is about the subtle presence of individuals, who by writing these letters, will in a way “inhabit” the closed Museum for a few weeks. It is also about the engagement of the Rockbund Art Museum team, who will not only maintain the archive, but also collect new stories in the duration it occupies our building. Finally, it is about the activation of the archive by individuals, who join the Museum to have a very singular relationship to the collection of texts, taking time to read, but to also experience the artist’s proposition to simply explore the archive in relation to the physicality of the museum’s space.


Presence requires more than conventional display and looking.


Presence is about « to be with… » in relationship to sincere, subtle, open and multiple voices.


Last but not least, if Stories from the Room started in Japan, Jasphy Zheng art project will extend to different locations and time zones such as Mainland China, Hong Kong, Kazakhstan, Ethiopia… In an exceptional context of lockdowns caused by the global pandemic and the impossibility for people to travel and connect normally to/with one another, the artistic act of Jasphy Zheng is also to make it possible for these voices and stories to traverse and unify multiple locations, temporalities and situations, simultaneously together.


Larys Frogier

Director of Rockbund Art Museum

About the Artist

Living between the US and China, Jasphy Zheng is an interdisciplinary artist whose practice most recently explores the inevitable failure of communication, both on an interpersonal and collective level. Using social installations, unannounced performances, sculptural objects, and artist’s books, Zheng constructs situations as public interventions that aim to raise awareness of our social and cultural environment, both in and out of the context of contemporary art. Zheng graduated with a BFA from the Rhode Island School of Design.