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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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Hot Dog Johnny’s

August 29, 2007

For years I avoided hotdogs. Just thinking about the word h-o-t-d-o-g would induce mild nausea. But living in Asia has, for better or worse, opened my palate to foods whose contents and production I dare not ponder. Hence, I now embrace the dog. There’s nothing more satisfying after a day kayaking on a lake than a frosted mug of birch beer coupled with a deep fried all-beef hotdog from Hot Dog Johnny’s, a pre-war Jersey institution.

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Lake House

This place is on the New York Historic Registry. It also happens to be a great spot for a summer soccer retreat. Big thanks to Jon and Anicka for putting this together!

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August 28, 2007

So great to be back in and around New York. Spent some time with the family in NJ. BBQed on the back porch and then gazed at the stars. Kayaked on the lake. Picked tomatoes and basil from the garden.

Then a few days in NYC. Time was so short and densely packed that I best remember it by the meal that accompanied each event: Pre-baby brunch with Mark and Ayana. A Malaysian affair with Marshall and Andy. Reunion tour at Max Fish following the annual guitar-solo battle at Anthology. Morning muffins and pastries at Christian & Cynthia’s. Buttery beef sandwiches with Jeff. Perfect birthday dinner for Cynthia at Marlow & Sons. Some delightful olives and conversation with Rob & Charles. Farewell drinks for Nick (see you in Shanghai!). Fried chicken with John & Jiae. Banh mi with Carol & Humberto. I wish there had been time to share a few more meals…

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HK Weekend

August 1, 2007

In addition to the Cure show, Hong Kong had some welcome surprises for us this weekend. The stream of young, spiky-haired kids wrapping from the subway, through our hotel lobby and down the street to the HK Convention Center led us to the first: Ani-Com. The annual games and comics convention draws more than 100,000 visitors each day, including many in full cos-play regalia.

I’m really into the idea of a panda in the driver’s seat of another panda. Kind of a ghost-in-the-machine type of toy.

B-boys on the big screen.

Probably the best surprise of the weekend, though, was getting to see Calvin and Claudy and meeting Agatha and Miggy.

We were treated to one final surprise when C&C led us to Kapok, a wonderfully conceived select shop on Dragon Temple Road, near the Tin Hau MTR stop. Arnault, the owner, stocks limited edition books, records, furniture, skin products and housewares – many are from France, but others discoveries he has made from around the world. The space also doubles as a gallery for rotating art exhibitions.

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