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Ghost Mall

June 27, 2008

Was just checking out BLDGBLOG, which pointed me to a fascinating story about the world’s largest mall located in Dongguan, China. Abu Dhabi-based The National recently featured a story on the South China Mall, a 7 million square foot shopping complex that, since opening in 2005, has become a beacon of the entropic forces of real estate speculation gone awry. Fewer than a dozen retail spaces currently occupy the mall, which I imagine qualifies it as a kind of self-contained ghost town.

Photo by Philip Gostelow for The National

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By Hand artists…

June 26, 2008

Two of the artists who participated in By Hand are being featured in an exhibition and in a new book from Black Dog Publishing. Shane Waltener is in a group show called The Fabric of Myth at Compton Verney in Warwickshire and Tucker Schwarz has work in a new book about fabric and art titled Contemporary Textiles.

Shane Waltener, Destiny, Mixed Media. 2008

Contemporary Textiles: The Fabric of Fine Art by Janis Jefferies and Bradley Quinn (Author), Nadine Monem (Editor)

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Talking and Smoking

June 25, 2008

The whole “smoking is bad for you” thing hasn’t really hit China, so there’s an almost whimsical, celebratory attitude towards nicotine. Cigarettes are given as gifts, purchased by the boxload at duty free shops and are generally considered an inexpensive luxury. Lyn Jeffery over at Virtual China posts about the beauty of Chinese cigarette packaging and the latest “cigarette phone.”

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Yes We Cannes

June 21, 2008

Sorry, there hadn’t been a good (or bad?) pun in the title in awhile. I was one of 11,000 advertising/marketing/media/etc people to go to Cannes last week and I’m glad I was able to experience the craziness at least once.

The beach looked nice, but there was no time to sit around!

This funny sticker was on my mini-fridge. Classic.

Some really amazing architecture in this town, from the ornate to the modern.

One of the awards ceremonies.

We got sucked into watching the game between Sweden and Russia. Russia won, Swedes were nonplussed.

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Reluctantly went to the Ballhaus, a place where ordinary people can indulge their love of partner-dancing, often to a shockingly diverse selection of music. Cynthia, seemingly unenthused in the foreground. I believe this is when they started playing Credence.

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Just outside of Berlin

About an hour West of the Polish border. Windmills and wheat fields.

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Football Fever

The Euro 2008 Football championships are on right now and you can hear cheering and/or fireworks just about every night. Turkey beat Croatia last night, so they face Germany next week. A friend in Kreuzberg reported that he couldn’t get to sleep with all the celebrations going on outside. Should be an interesting game, especially for the fans that have the German and Turkish flags flying proudly from their balconies. Who to support? What color to wear?

To sustain our football fever, we went to see Zidane: A 21st-Century Portrait, Douglas Gordon and Philippe Parreno’s 90-minute multi-angle “documentary” about the eponymous French athlete, released just before the World Cup. At DAAD Gallery, the final cut of the film was shown next to out-takes, creating an immersive Zidane-centered screening room. Something strange happened when one was forced to focus on one player and not on the ball. The action seemed fragmented, unimportant. Gordon occasionally added Zidane’s own quotes beneath the images:

“The game, the event, is not necessarily experienced or remembered in ‘real time’…My memories of games and events are fragmented…I remember playing in another place, at another time, when something amazing happened. Someone passed the ball to me, and before even touching it, I knew exactly what was going to happen. I knew I was going to score. It was the first and last time it ever happened.”

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Xiong Wenyun – Ten Years of Moving Rainbow

June 19, 2008

To celebrate its year anniversary, the Three Shadows Photography Center will present an exhibition of Xiong Wenyun’s much lauded Moving Rainbows series. From the press release:

A prolific female artist, Xiong Wenyun’s multidisciplinary works link individual emotion with the social environment through a unique, subtle language. Her works are not confined to the exhibition hall, but attract a wider audience through their simple, direct force.
Xiong Wenyun graduated from the ink-painting department of the Sichuan Academy of Fine Arts. In the nineties, she studied and taught in Japan, during which time she did in-depth research on the composition of color and created abstract paintings that embodied the energy of color sequences. After returning to China, she brought these experiments outside. Beginning in 1998, she spent three years working on the multimedia project “Moving Rainbow” on the Sichuan-Tibetan highway. The project incorporates installations along the highways with local architecture and motorcades of trucks. Captured through photography and video, this multidisciplinary, experimental project combines contemporary art, society, history, culture, local ecology, environmentalism, and activism by both artist and audience.

Xiong Wenyun, On Mount Erlang #4, 1998

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Storefront Pop-Up

If I were in London this weekend, I’d definitely check out the opening of the Storefront for Art and Architecture’s pop-up shop. The space will feature 6 models from Danish architects BIG (Bjarke Ingels Group) including a tower composed of 250,000 Legos. (Click the video to see it built in just over 3 minutes.)

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June 11, 2008

Post-WWII, millions of cubic meters of rubble were plowed into piles, covered with dirt and left to developing a shroud of greenery. Teufelsberg (Devil’s Mountain) is one such hill—the tallest in Berlin—with a pretty fascinating history. One of the highlights is undoubtedly the NSA audio monitoring center that the US government built on top of the mountain to spy on the Russian and East Germany military. The facility was abandoned after German reunification and sold to a private developer in 1996. The plan was to offer luxury apartments, a resort and a spy museum, but the Berlin bubble put an end to that vision. Large geodesic domes that once protected listening instruments are still intact at the building site, and contribute to an awfully scenic rooftop.

On our visit, we were fortunate to meet up with a park caretaker who showed us around the site and informed us of the latest turn in the history of Teufelsberg: the site was recently purchased by David Lynch, who plans to develop the site into a campus for the study of Transcendental Meditation. Far out. But there’s more.

Lynch apparently announced his purchase and plan for the TM University at a news conference in Berlin last November. At the announcement his German guru, Emanuel Schiffgens, began chanting “We want an invincible Germany!” and asked the crowd to join in. Obviously, the rhetoric incited some disdain from the audience (video here). Yikes – Lynch had better read the transcript before joining the next TM junket.

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