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All Cats Are Grey

July 31, 2007

Ok, so we went to Hong Kong this weekend. And The Cure was playing. And we went. And Robert Smith is still amazing. They played a 3+ hr long set that included most of the hits as well as some crate diggers (Kyoto Song, 100 Years) and a blazing second-encore rendition of A Forest that made me very happy.

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Inner Mongolia

July 22, 2007

Spent the weekend in the Huitengxile region of Inner Mongolia. The flight from Beijing to Hohhot takes only an hour, but getting to the grasslands takes much longer. About 3 hours longer. The distance isn’t that great – it’s the condition of the roads (and, at times, lack of roads) that accounts for much of the travel time.

Key item: Niu Zai (Cowboy) tote bag

Hohhot, like all Chinese cities, seems to be undergoing a bit of a building boom. Hence, massive piles of rubble.

Pet pig.

I’m fond of the matching yellow scarves.

Even the kids on Hohhot are rockin their BAPE wear.

Make-shift chair with panda padding.

Grasslands.

We slept in these concrete yurts that some enterprising fellow built in the middle of nowhere so that travelers to the region can simulate the experience of nomadic living without suffering the inconvenience of waterless, windowless, non-wind-resistant accommodations. Which isn’t to say that a concrete slab with a cold water sink is lux living.

Camels.

This 70-year-old rides his horses 20 li (about 1.5km per li) each day to the yurt site to rent them out to tourists.

Local food: Millet and sweet milk curd.

A bathroom made of styrofoam.

Back to Beijing.

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Tiger Translate

July 15, 2007

The Beijing leg of Translate went off inside the 798 Gallery last night. Lack of aircon made for a pretty sweaty evening but, thankfully, there was plenty of beer on ice.

Dwayne & Andre

Uma & Simon

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Break Down

July 14, 2007

Take the world’s most talented breakdancers, film them at home with their families and then on stage at the most anticipated annual breakdancing competition (which happens to take place in a small town in Germany), and you’re sure to get some entertaining footage. The film Planet Bboy definitely doesn’t disappoint. The screening this weekend in the 706 region of the 798 art district featured a pre-show warmup from a local bboy crew. Nice.

The after party didn’t seem like it was going to last too long – perhaps the deafening volume of the PA had something to o with it.

At least the dj got some love from the local police.

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Qiu Zhijie at Long March Space

July 3, 2007

Don’t know much about this artist, but I like the flyer and the description of his installations offered by the gallery:

The Qiu Zhijie solo exhibition, “Archeology of Memory”, will be held in 798 Long March Space on July 7, 2007. It will be the artist’s first solo exhibition in Beijing since year 2004.

The exhibition is composed of a large-scale installation work entitled “Monuments” which the artist has worked on from 2006-2007.

From a spatial dimension, the work covers both public discourse and individual codes; temporally, it spans the re-examination of historical narratives to contemporary vocabulary. The artist has indefatigably carved words and sentences that haunt the collective and individual memory onto the concrete monuments – as if to solidify these memories into permanence. But, he then the covers the epigraph with another layer of concrete, and continues this process – layer by layer – until the epigraph is sealed and every single layer is covered by another concrete layer. Finally, only simple, concrete, cube sculptures remain, their stained sides giving them the appearance of having been excavated from an archaeological dig themselves. Yet, it is difficult to associate these concrete cubes as containers of memory.

Opening: July 7th 3pm
Date: July 7th – August 12th
Venue: Long March Space B

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Petit Tour

July 2, 2007

Somewhat bummed that we won’t be out in Europe this summer to catch a glimpse of the Grand Tour, so to assuage my sadness, Shu and I took a mini tour through Beijing’s rapidly expanding art districts this weekend. Started out in what is now considered Beijing’s somewhat over-the-hill granddaddy of art centers, the 798 district. Several spaces were in between shows, which meant we had time to linger at my new favorite place for iced coffee – the Mooi Cafe. Mooi features what is undoubtedly Beijing’s best selection of vintage mid-century furniture in its front showroom. Walk through the showroom to the whitewashed courtyard in the back, and you’ll be treated to an unexpected bit of respite amidst the unflagging bustle of Beijing. Be sure to try Shannon’s iced latte – perfect.

Of the ongoing exhibitions in the area, Art Lab’s No Where exhibition stood out for its selection of new media/technology-based art – a welcome anomaly in the local art scene. Chicago artist Joseph Kohnke left me wanting more of his clever simulations of organic processes through mechanical means. Potato chip bags that breathe. Baby spoons that mark the passage of time. Great stuff.

Spoon Fed, 2003 (Gerber baby spoons, motors and metal)

Life Support, 2001 (Chip bags, compressor, metal, tubes)

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Borderline at Platform China

Last night was the closing of this year’s Borderline festival. Platform China in Caochangdi hosted the event, which included 10 or so video works installed in the gallery space. My favorite of the lot is titled “The Welcome Rain Falling From the Sky.” Unfortunately, none of the pieces in the show were tagged, so I didn’t get the artist’s name.

The 1 minute long video displays the artists captured in a kind of real-world video game. Objects are tossed at him from above, which he must dodge by leaping back and forth across the white line drawn on the floor.

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Borderline Festival

July 1, 2007

Platform China is spearheading the second installment of Beijing’s largest annual video art festival. Events are going on now and will wrap up on Sunday, July 1 at the Platform China space in Caochangdi. Check www.borderlinefestival.org for details.

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NYIT Summer Project Show

Casey Mack (of Popular Architecture) was in town for two weeks with his class from New York Institute of Technology. It was good to catch up and see what the students were up to on their crash course in making it big and fast.

Olympia Kazi, also in town from NY and just back from Guangzhou where she spoke about “Engagement Fever” and the use of urban space for social actions like Critical Mass.

Left, Casey. Right, Andre Schmidt. Inbetween, more architects.

NYIT program students.

Shu, on the verge of collapse from lack of food. A wedge of processed cheese looked pretty damn good.

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