shu and joe

Posts filed under ‘China’

One Year Later

May 12, 2009

Luke made this video about musician Abigail Washburn, who travels back to Sichuan a year after the earthquake to make music with the local kids:

In May 2008 an earthquake devastated Sichuan province in China, killing tens of thousands and leaving millions homeless. To commemorate the one year anniversary of this tragedy, musicians Abigail Washburn and Dave Liang of the Shanghai Restoration Project traveled to Sichuan to make music with children who survived the earthquake and their parents. Using folk songs sung by the children as well as sounds of their parents rebuilding their houses with bricks and mortar, Abby and Dave created a unique musical soundscape, and this video shows how the whole process unfolded in March, 2009.

Chinese version.
Official website for After Quake Music.

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Ai Wei Wei Back in the Day

December 26, 2008


Williamsburg, Brooklyn. 1983


Flea Market at Union Square. 1987


Chen Kaige. 1985

Before he was a superstar artist and architect, Ai Wei Wei spent ten years in New York City, photographing his friends and capturing everything he saw.

Ai Weiwei on his NYC photos:

These photos were taken between 1983 and 1994 during the decade I spent living in New York before returning to Beijing. At that time, I didn’t really have anything to do. I was just hanging out, whiling away my time everyday by taking pictures of the people I met, places I went, my friends, my neighborhood, the street and the city.

In a flash twenty years have past, and the New York I knew no longer exists. The appearance of the East Village has totally changed, and many of the people in my photographs are no longer in this world. I took these photos casually, and most of my subjects probably don’t even realize that they are in them. Today, looking back on the past, I can see that these photographs are not true anymore. After all, any reality is just a fact of change – an unconfirmed moment in the slow march of time. The present always surpasses the past, and the future will not care about today.

What drives me to organize and publish these photographs is not nostalgia, for I believe that past occurrences do not matter much. We are not destined to meet those whom we’ve met, and humans are by nature lonely. Rather, the photos themselves are concrete objects that form a kind of orderly arrangement despite their free-floating nature as disassociated images on photo paper. The specific people and things involved, including my own past, are not important anymore.

Life in the past fifty years has been much like a falling leaf with no goal or direction. In the end, however, the leaf will land in some corner. The images’ appearance and order are much like this. They are disorganized, but paths of thought appear that seem most clear when the photos are all mixed up.

Today, I still always have a camera in my hand, accustomed as I am to the click of the shutter. What I should explain though, is that I am not interested in photography, and don’t really care about the subjects of my photos. In the end, they are part of a different reality than that of my own existence. Every time I look at these photographs, I always discover that there is more strangeness in them than familiarity.

A selection of Ai Wei Wei’s photos are being exhibited at Three Shadows in Beijing through April 2009.

All images courtesy of Three Shadow Photography, Beijing

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Art | Osage HK

November 14, 2008

Kwun Tong is an industrial neighborhood on the Kowloon side of Victoria Harbor — a long way from the galleries clustered near Hong Kong’s Hollywood Road. I have a feeling that this choice of location was intended to put both physical and symbolic distance between Osage Gallery and the oft-underwhelming work on display across the water. The space can be a bit difficult to locate, but if you stand around near the loading dock on the ground floor looking uncertain, you’ll be pointed to the freight elevator and taken up to the fifth floor. Currently on display is the photographic work of Jiang Zhi and a group show titled Site:Seeing.


View from the street.


Jiang Zhi


Jiang Zhi

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Photo Op | Casting

October 1, 2008

A new addition to the Historical Fiction Press catalogue. Eriko Miyagawa’s casting photos from the Kite Runner, a film she worked on over a year ago. The photos feature faces of ethnic minorities from the Western Chinese province of Xinjiang. When we saw the photos, we were amazed by the diversity of ethnicities, ages and expressions.

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Beijing Taxi

September 10, 2008

A new documentary about the lives of Beijing taxi drivers from Three Waters Productions.

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Lebbeus Woods and the Architecture of the Impossible

September 8, 2008

Great article in the New York Times by Nicolai Ouroussoff about the architect Lebbeus Woods.

Some critics condemned the design for its coldblooded imagery. But it also turned cold-war Modernism on its head. In the 1950s American architects were striving to retool wartime military production for the construction of a peacetime paradise. One result was the mind-numbing conformity of suburban subdivisions. Mr. Woods, by comparison, has never been so utopian. In his drawings society seems to be coming apart at the seams. His glistening pods, armored against the surrounding mayhem, are intended as sanctuaries for society’s most vulnerable: outcasts, rebels, heretics and dreamers.


Berlin Free-Zone 3-2. A proposal from the early 90′s for an abandoned building in Berlin.


Terrain 1-2. A series of designs that reflected the effects of earthquake-induced seismic shifts.


A design for an unrealized pavilion in China. “..a dense Piranesian space in which people can climb out to peer out at the urban sprawl of the new China.”

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The Power of Architecture

September 5, 2008

Amazing and beautiful Bird’s Nest “homage” in a farming village in China.

via Virtual China

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Rong Rong and Inri

Rong Rong started the Three Shadows Photography Art Centre in Beijing, housed in a massive Ai Wei Wei designed complex. He often works with his wife, Inri, on photographic projects and the two of them have a new show up at Three Shadows. Titled “From Six Mile Village to Three Shadows,” the works will delicately detail the path the two have shared together as a creative duo in the last decade. We wish we could be there to see it in person.

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The Shanghai Riddle

September 3, 2008

There’s been a fair bit of appropriation of design from China lately. Maarten Baas’s collaboration with Pearl Lam of Contrast Gallery is the latest. Baas created a series of hand-carved elm replicas of ordinary Chinese plastic chairs for his exhibition, “The Shanghai Riddle.”


Maarten Baas, Plastic Chair in Wood, 2008. Carved elmwood with varnish. Edition of 50.


Maarten Baas, Stack of Plastic High Stools in Elm, 2008. Edition of 50.

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Talking and Smoking

June 25, 2008

The whole “smoking is bad for you” thing hasn’t really hit China, so there’s an almost whimsical, celebratory attitude towards nicotine. Cigarettes are given as gifts, purchased by the boxload at duty free shops and are generally considered an inexpensive luxury. Lyn Jeffery over at Virtual China posts about the beauty of Chinese cigarette packaging and the latest “cigarette phone.”

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