shu and joe

Posts filed under ‘Travel’

Tourist-friendly Quanzhou

February 6, 2008

The coldest weather in 50 years hit China this year, making a normally crowded beach look like something post-Apocalyptic.

Nice to see the balloon shooting game is still available on the deserted beach.

We had an all-seafood lunch with some of my uncle’s friends and they insisted that we drink this very healthful liquor. When I asked what part of the body it was good for, they simply said “the women’s and men’s parts.” We had several shots before it was revealed that the secret ingredient came from bears’ gallbladder. Please forgive us.

The Luoyang Bridge, oldest stone bridge in China.

Kids setting off fireworks in the dry riverbed next to the bridge.

This is my reclusive uncle who teaches at the Quanzhou Overseas University. He gave us peanuts and showed us his latest drawings.

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February 5, 2008

Chinese New Year means it’s time to visit family, so we went down to my ancestral hometown of Quanzhou for a few days of slightly warmer weather and fish cooked 100 different ways. First stop, a giant monument to the man who liberated Taiwan from the Dutch. Who knew the Dutch had foot in Taiwan 300 years ago? Apparently, everyone in the town of Quanzhou. Legend and DNA has it that most people in Taiwan are from the Fujian province, which makes sense since they face each other. Anyway, this statue is visible from the city below and is massive. The pictures aren’t quite doing it justice size-wise.

The artist Cai Guo Qiang is originally from Quanzhou and his artwork adorns the entryway to the Quanzhou/Taiwan History Museum. This massive piece alternates from text to a tree and no doubt signifies the shared roots of the people of Taiwan and those in the Mainland. In fact, the entire museum was devoted to emphasizing the sameness between the two regions.

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January 8, 2008

Funny – spent the past two weeks in Seattle and Portland visiting family and I only picked up the camera a few times. I guess I had my hands wrapped around a coffee cup the rest of the time. Or maybe it was the perpetual rain.

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The Meaning of Shuu

December 6, 2007

A Chinese restaurant that Ken Miller discovered in Tokyo recently. Maybe I should start adding another “u” to my name?

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Song Beijing

December 5, 2007

Beijing music connoisseur and promoter extraordinaire, Neebing, is launching his new restaurant/bar venture, Song, inside of The Place on Guanghua Lu. Described as a location to “promote local creativity in Beijing, Sòng has brought the best local design and creatives together to create a warm, cosy and chilled environment for good food, great music and drinks.” The opening party on December 12 will feature the seminal dance music duo Coldcut.

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Suzhou Contemporary

November 19, 2007

Set to open in mid-2008, the Contemporary Art Museum of Suzhou will offer close to 30,000sqm of gallery space. Programming for the space is still in development, which is why we hopped on an overnight train from Beijing to meet the museum’s founder and director this weekend. After touring the construction site, I was impressed. Sited in an industrial park outside of Suzhou’s old city center, this project has a lot of potential. Towering exhibition spaces are well suited for monumental exhibitions. A large Serra could be comfortably installed within one of the main exhibition rooms, while the large central pit would serve as ideal hosts to an Olafur Eliasson installation. On site artist studios and living quarters are also generous, and look to promote the space as a destination for visiting international artists. Excited to see how it all turns out.

Schutze and Jo Jo on the train.

Museum owner, Mr. Chen, and director, Mr. Xue.

Checking out the recycled gray brick used for the building’s facade.

An exhibition room.

Studio space.

Top floor studio.

View from the roof.

The surrounding village.

Had time to stop by the Shanghai Art Fair as well, but would have done well to pass. It was a big disappointment after September’s well staged Shanghai Contemporary Art Fair. The gimmick of the moment appeared to be classical sculpture rendered in a warped perspective, a technique employed by at least 3 artists on display.

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October 10, 2007

Today’s Hansaviertel sits just north of Berlin’s Tiergarten on a site that was decimated during WW2. The 1957 Interbau competition gave international stars of modern architecture (Aalvar Aalto, Walter Gropius, Arne Jacobsen, Oscar Niemeyer, et al.) an opportunity to develop a “city of tomorrow” pretty much from scratch. The result is a collection of 36 freestanding structures, including a 1-storey U-bahn station with shops and a theater, two churches, a collection of apartment towers, several single-family homes and the low-lying Berlin exhibition pavilion, which today houses a Burger King.

The results of this planned housing project seem somewhat mixed, at least from the outside. There are some elegant structures, and some not so. The two lanes lined with one and two-storey single family homes are particularly attractive, nestled at the edge of the thick foliage of Tiergarten. My biggest complaint with the neighborhood is the same that I have with Beijing’s newer quarters: a lack of street life, complete suburbanization. The proximity to the subway and lush park environment do, however, make for a suburb that wouldn’t be too hard to call home.

Predating Jianwai Soho by about 50 years:

Not on the map, but an interesting addition to the neighborhood:

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October 9, 2007

Down a small side street off of Lobeckstraße inside a renovated late 19th century factory building swaddled by a 1970s expansion project, Matthias Böttger and Friedrich von Borries have set up shop. Not a retail shop, but a studio from which they develop projects related to urbanization and curious social phenomena (e.g., German cowboys and indians?!). They’ve recently finished editing a volume on the relationship between architecture and video games called Space Time Play.

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Art Forum Berlin

October 8, 2007

Early reports figured on this year’s Art Forum Berlin being the most widely-attended art fair yet staged in Berlin, and judging by the crowd on hand during its third day of operation, they may have been right.

After a few hours surveying, Shu and I noticed several common themes among the crop of artists on display. All stem from what might be called an aesthetics of the mundane – everyday objects and processes stripped of their utility and presented for contemplation. Not simply readymades, most examples have been reworked or “enhanced” in some way – a mahogany shipping pallet coated in gleaming shellac, or a partially opened shipping crate whose polystyrene packing peanuts gently pulse, evoking some gestating alien art form, for example.

Also among the works on display were no less than three examples of carpet art. Whether cut and laid within an abstract aluminum polygon, or pulled from the floor of an old apartment replete with the stench of cigarettes and piss, the carpet works were not pieces I’d want to have to transport.

One of my favorite pieces in the show was a triptych of public benches overlooking the sea by Götz Diergarten. Formally stark, yet sentimental in a way that I appreciate.

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Back to Berlin

Coffee with marzipan-laced cookies. The scent of early autumn decay by the banks of canals. Flea markets with relics worth owning. Bookshops with titles so beautifully packaged that German editions beckon to be purchased, despite my inability to read them. Shops whose casually minimalist styling and wittily conceptual offerings are motivated by intellectual pass times rather than profit margins. Art galleries and ateliers seemingly everywhere. Yes, I’m fond of Berlin.

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