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Ullens Center

November 27, 2007

Went back to the Ullens Center this weekend to take a closer look not just at the ’85 New Wave exhibition, but also at the facility itself. Both are quite impressive. The exhibition gave me the opportunity to encounter several movements of modern Chinese art that I had yet to experience first hand – films of key Xiamen Dada performances for example. There are also some more well-known works on display like Xu Bing’s Book From the Sky.

The facility itself promises much with lectures, screenings and book exhibitions planned for the coming year. A second storey research room/library looks to be a gathering place for those seeking a comfortable, quite spot with wifi to work on meeting their next deadline. Oh and I was happy to see that By Hand made it into the book collection!

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3D Ping Pong

November 26, 2007

Why this is I couldn’t say, but Berlin is something of a ping pong mecca. Public parks sport concrete tables while legendary bars like Dr. Pongs feature late night group table tennis debauchery. It’s no surprise, then, that Berlin would be the site of a new movement in table tennis – 3D Ping Pong. Appearing in clubs and parks around the city, 3D Pong pushes both the physics and athletics of the sport up a notch. The INMYX website has a full write up on the hexagonal pong “tube” and it inventors. Can’t wait to give this a try!


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Did I mention that Andre’s inflatable model of the Berlin TV Tower is now for sale? I helped out with the package design, but haven’t taken any pictures of the final product. Check out the website for more photos and a stunning real-time inflation.

Side note: Andre has also co-authored a recently released book on the current modernization of Beijing. The book is titled Big Bang Beijing and it offers some insightful commentary and images collected during 3 years on location. (Published in Japan and currently available through

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Pinguo Xiao Qu

I’m not really too savvy when it comes to real estate speculation, but if I had some cash for a down payment, I might consider buying a place in Beijing’s Pinguo apartment complex. The apartments themselves offer 15 foot high ceilings and proximity to the city’s Central Business District. What makes the location interesting, however, is the push to turn the neighborhood into a mix of art and retail space. The Today Art Museum has been on site for more than a year now, but the real indication that this mixed use plan may take off is smattering of window banners that can be seen on the several of the 200 or so yet-to-be-completed commercial spaces. Agnes B., Adidas, Beijing-Tokyo Art Projects and the Saatchi Gallery are listed as soon-to-be tenants. Several restaurants, a cafe and a bookstore have also moved in. Looks promising.

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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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November 6, 2007

Hans Ulrich Obrist has been developing DO IT for the past 14 years. DO IT is a manual that includes projects contributed by several hundred global artists that can be realized by anyone who follows the instructions provided in the book. For the release of a new expanded Chinese language version of the book, HUO came to Beijing to discuss the project. His talk was marred by a noisy crowd, painful mic reverb and posters that repeatedly fell from the walls, but despite the distractions, HUO managed to offer some insight into the value of archives, the challenges of translation and the peculiarities of working with artists.

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Imagery Now at PKM

November 5, 2007

This is why I like PKM: they consistently produce some of the most well-installed exhibitions in Beijing. Arrangement, spacing, tagging, framing, lighting – all of the peripheral elements that go into the display of artwork are given consideration and professionally executed. Contrary to the get-it-on-the-wall-and-out-the-door aesthetic that, unfortunately, plagues some local galleries, PKM’s Beijing outpost gets it right. Oh, and they put together thoughtful exhibitions of quality work too.

The current exhibition, titled “Imagery Now,” is actually a survey of artworks from the past 40 years that employ bold, graphic techniques to either focus or trick the eye. From Tadanori Yokoo multiple fluorescent inks to Hiroe Saeki delicate, repetitive pen strokes to Thomas Bayrle’s optical double entendre, Imagery Now offers a lot that is easy to enjoy.

Tadanori Yokoo

Hiroe Saeki

Thomas Bayrle

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The Boiler Room

November 4, 2007

In addition to the global art world arriving for the opening of the Ullens Center, this weekend also saw the opening of The Boiler Room. The Boiler Room is a factory conversion project in the center of old Beijing that looks to become something of an architect’s park in the vein of Shanghai’s Bridge 8. Both SMC Alsop and Graft have set up shop on the premises, with more creative-industry types sure to follow.

Albert enjoying the local vintage.

The opening also featured a party space complete with ice bar, courtesy of Alsop.

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