shu and joe

Posts filed under ‘China’

Plush Meat Floss Bun

December 17, 2007

Meat floss is basically dried meat (usually pork) eaten with congee or added to the tops of baked buns. Seen here is an amazing plush version made of out of cotton, yarn and foam. The flags give the whole thing a nice international effect.

Plush Bun

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Get It Louder Beijing

August 31, 2007

The Beijing leg of the biannual Get It Louder exhibition wraps up today, so I made a point of heading to the latest addition to the SOHO empire to check it out before the curtain fell. (SOHO Shangdu is located off of Dong Da Qiao Lu, adjacent to The Place, home of the largest “sky screen” in Asia.)

Initial impression: a shopping mall is not the best environment in which to experience art. It’s a matter of focus, or rather, the inability to do so within the mall context. The following image should illustrate my point:

It’s difficult to look at and around the lego sculpture within the vitrine without getting caught up in the barrage of color, signage and chrome that compose the mise en scène. Luckily, the “bridge room” and outdoor components of the exhibition didn’t suffer these distractions. They harbored their own flaws, but more importantly, featured some engaging work. Top of the list has to be Cao Fei’s iMirror video, for which she is both director and lead “actor” via her Second Life avatar, China Tracy. The video opens with a group of For Sale signs rotating in mid air, unbounded by the force of gravity or any tangible referent. Cao Fei repeatedly returns to the image of the For Sale sign, intercutting images of stark, hyper-modern buildings and solitary urban dwellers, dwarfed by the expansive surroundings.

It’s hard not to draw a comparison between these vast, newly minted yet structures and the Real Life buildings that are being developed (and that sit empty) here in Beijing. The difference, however, is that the feeling of isolation and displacement one might experience in Beijing can’t be literalized the way it is in the virtual world of SL – there are just too many people in this town.

Set up for Cao Fei’s iMirror.

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June 5, 2007

Xi’an is known as a good place to spend a weekend – and that’s about it. Most people I ‘ve taked to suggest one day to visit the Terracotta Warriors and one to sample some of the local cuisine. This, I think, is a pretty uncharitable assessment – after all, Xi’an was once the capital of China and is a city of a nearly 6 million people. It’s also a fine example of a Chinese city that’s not Beijing, Shanghai or Guangzhou.

On the other hand, it’s close enough to Beijing to make it a convenient weekend trip, which is what we made of it.

Perhaps more fascinating than the Warriors themselves is the spectacle of tourism and the armature that supports it. Like the pose-with-a-warrior photobooth.

Street food in Xi’an is highly recommended, as is the local orange soda.

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Hong Kong

May 23, 2007

On our way to Bali, we stopped over in Hong Kong for a few days. Got to see some friends and family, visit a few islands, do some hiking, and narrowly escape a feral pigeon attack.

Shu’s aunt, mom and brother in the New Territories.

Sunday in Central: thousands of migrant cleaning ladies flood the streets to relax on their day off.

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May 8, 2007

Wrangle up a little sponsorship, and watch the numbers soar…

Pecha Kucha, the rapid-fire lecture series founded in Japan and now franchised around the globe, made its second appearance in Beijing in April. With a little PR help from Nike and the use of the corporation’s gargantuan space inside factory 706, the event turned out to be the event of the week, pulling in more than 500 art/architecture/culture enthusiasts. Maybe it free beer and door prizes, I don’t know, but whatever the case, people turned out. And they were rewarded with some interesting displays from local designers, architects and artists. But, um, what was up with the giant glow ball?

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Capital Idea

May 7, 2007

Beijing’s New Capital Museum was completed in 2005 and features a massive column that pierces through the 5 storey structure at a slightly oblique angle. It’s reportedly the 2nd largest museum in China and features some of the finest lighting and display systems I’ve seen on the mainland. The museum recently featured its first large scale exhiition of Western art titled “Aftershock.” The exhibition was a kind of greatest-hits-of-the-YBA affair, although many of their most notorious works were not to be seen. It seems that the government run institution is still not ready to bear a full-scale earthquake.

The oblique cylinder may look good from the outside, but it results in some awkward interior solutions:

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Kids These Days

April 9, 2007

Weather has been about as good as it gets in Beijing lately, so we took to the streets this weekend. In one afternoon of walking, we spotted 4 groups of girls sporting these animal-shaped bags.

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Lui Zhai Shifu

When visitors are in town, we’re often called upon to introduce them to some authentic local cuisine. I’ve decided that my favorite place for such an introduction is Liu Zhai Shifu, a small family-run restaurant just north of Meishuguan (the National Art Museum of China). So when Andre told us his friend Kumi would be in town, we lined up a reservation.

The courtyard setting is a bit rough around the edges, but the homestyle dishes are delicious. They’ve got typical Beijing duck on the menu, but also feature some harder-to-come-by fare like ma doufu – a grayish, pungent mash of fermented tofu, topped with a bit of chili oil. The rolled eggplant, vinegar-cooked flounder, and lamb, onion and cilantro skillet are all worth checking out.

(located at 8 Jiangjiadayuan Hutong off of Meishuguan Dong Dajie; +8610 64005912)

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Salon #10: The Dazhalan Project

March 26, 2007

Andre hosted his tenth salon this week, and did so not once, but thrice. The event featured the China premiere of Ou Ning and Cao Fei’s documentary film Meshi Street, which tells the story of a resident of one of Beijing’s old “slum” neighborhoods as he attempts to fight the impending destruction of his home. It’s something of a foregone conclusion that he will fail (one man and his private concerns doesn’t stand much of a chance against the bureaucratic mechanisms of the city works department), but the film does a good job of sharpening the issues around resident displacement and just compensation that strike at many old Beijingers.

The event also marked the kick-off of this year’s Get It Louder festival. The 2007 program will feature a couple dozen satellite event spaces, such as Andre’s home show.

Ou Ning discussing his work.

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DIY Opening at Tang Contemporary

March 25, 2007

Last Saturday’s opening of the Tang Contemporary’s latest group exhibition, DIY, brought out local artists and enthusiasts alike. Cai Guo Qiang made an appearance, took a quick tour of the work on display, graciously attended to a crowd of telephotos, and slipped away before the scrum became too agressive.

The stated theme of the show is freedom from a curatorial viewpoint. How exactly this is possible, since the artists were ‘selected’ to take part in the exhibition, eludes me, but here you have it from the gallery: “Nowadays, the exhibition of contemporary art normally requires a curator, this has already become an established system, and the operation of this system has increasingly led to a situation of the monopoly of art resources, the power has been within the hands and minds of a few people. Curatorial system comes from the West, the original idea was to insure the artistic quality of exhibition and to lead the art direction in levels of theory and ideology. It’s not to say that there is anything wrong with the system itself, human society needs discipline and system, but they are more functional in terms of social economy and social structure. In regarding contemporary art especially, its unique value and meaning is largely contributed by its gesture of independence from mainstream society and its critical manner towards system and authority. So the upcoming exhibition that will be accommodated in Tang Contemporary Art Beijing in March is just such an activity that consciously rejects the conventional idea of curatorial system. The exhibition actually will be curated by the participant artists themselves, it’s going to be an exhibition of autonomy. The artists try to break up with the very idea of fitting into the thematical frame work set up by curators for each exhibition by organizing an art show themselves. This way will certainly endow them with more freedom and liberty in terms of artistic creativity. Most participant artists are quite young, some of them have already acquired their reputation internationally, and some of them have just stepped on the stage. They declare that they are not against curatorship itself and therefore the system, they just want to explore an alternative way that enable artist enjoying doing their work more freely.”

Two of the more memorable pieces in the show:

He Chi’s East Wind consisted of about 40 workers, a flag, flagpole and 40 strips of rubber hose. The workers climbed into a pit and were instructed to blow into hoses as hard as they could in an attempt to raise up the Chinese flag at the top of the pole. Immediately following the performance, they were taken outside of the gallery where they were paid in cash for their efforts.

I like wolves and wolves like me. Qin Ga’s wolf was set to howl whenever a viewer approached.

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