“Creativity is the only inexhaustible resource.” – Uli Sigg
THE CHINESE LIVES OF ULI SIGG
Michael Schindhelm | Zwitzerland | 2016 | 93′
An intimate sketch of the life of the sometimes inscrutable entrepreneur / diplomat / art collector Uli Sigg (Lucerne, 1946), a man who, thanks to his charisma and tact has played an eminent role in the post-Mao China: both economically and culturally.
Sigg’s first encounter with Chinese culture took place in the eighties, when as vice president of the first joint venture between a Western and a Chinese company, he played a challenging and decisive role in introducing market economy in China. During this period Sigg encountered a number of Chinese underground artist and became interested in their work. Appointed as Swiss ambassador in China in the mid-nineties, Sigg discovered that no one had really taken a serious interest in contemporary Chinese artists. Thus he became their most influential collector.
Sigg turned to art because he wanted to understand China and acted as a mentor and mediator for nowadays internationally renowned artists such as Ai Weiwei, Zeng Fanzhi, Cao Fei and for tens of others. Promising to preserve their works until they could be returned to China, his collection quickly became the largest and most diverse of its kind worldwide, containing over 2,200 pieces. The fulfilment of Sigg’s final self-appointed mission is now finally getting close, with 1,500 works that will travel to Hong Kong in 2019 to be permanently exposed at M+, the new Museum for Visual Culture.
This film is a journey through the exceptional life of Uli Sigg and the modern history of China since Mao’s death, where Chinese contemporary art, as we encounter it through Sigg’s collection, becomes a unique witness of China’s transformation.
It’s the story of large-scale success and virtue joined as they rarely are in the world of big business and power politics; it’s a portrait of an exceptional figure; and it’s an eye-opening peek into the art world, with all its intrigue and splendour. It’s men like this one who are behind so much of the modern art we enjoy in museums, and here is a fitting tribute. – Vancouver International Film Festival
Premiere screening Wednesday 14 December 19:30h at Rialto Amsterdam in company of the film director, Michael Schindhelm. In other Dutch cinemas from January 2017.
Cracking the Frame
A monthly program featuring an international selection of theatrically unreleased, critically acclaimed arts documentaries.
Cracking the Frame focuses on the creative intersection between art and film through thought-provoking cinematic portraits of the life and work of established contemporary artists, photographers, filmmakers and global thinkers.