the trip has been ended now for some time. “Its time to get back in the work boots” no, I don’t think so. everyday keep it up and say a word. read a story. sweat the soy. oh man, I got back bare chested and with a full stomach but quickly realized “no shirt, no shoes, no service” as compared to “no respect, no humility, no service” oh but America is not so bad. its only not so bad because I got a chance to leave and realize how not to be as American. as pessimistic as that sounds, it does not mean i am ashamed of my country it means i recognize its downfalls and love it for that but realize how not to perpetuate it. its not hard and its not easy. it just is
after leaving the restaurant the wind had picked up. so it is windy tonight. i guess that is china waving goodbye. thats what i like to think at least so thats what i will think. goodbye. my feet shuffled by the night market. and i couldnt help but want to grab on to the nearest pole and hold on as hard as i could to not get blown back across the pacific. i think i have learned more than i could comprehend by staying here longer. so leaving will allow me to understand and activate.meaning if i stayed here any longer i would set up camp and call it a life call it a day. i will miss the food the most. i will miss the people the most. i will miss the difference, the divide the most. that is afterall what drew me here.
It is so bright at night. the lights blur and the people melt. face one face two face three face 25,352,145. its a riot of personalities melding. and each one has a mission. and my face doesn’t blend here yet it has never smiled so big. I’m in a parallel universe separated only by the pacific. separated only from my culture, my history and my hair my skin my eyes my fingers. it’s not so separate and i am not so different. it’s a walking game you gotta keep your feet on the ground but its so hard not to fly away. how much you want for this. just give me a fucking deal man just because i cant speak the language doesnt mean i’m loaded. oh i forgot to keep that ideology on the shelf. let me put it away but in the meantime i really want this fucking bronze buddha. i wanna buy this bronze buddha. “i got this in china, isnt it awesome and even more awesome because its from china?” yeah. its more special like that. oh dont even think about calling me, we cant make arrangements over the phone because i am a day ahead of you in the same time zone. the clotheslines sway so high and they are so layered and they dot the cityscape like the stars in the sky. they hang and sway. not like the crumpled clothes we shove in a dryer back home. these clothes fly in the open. back on the subway. i can see 865 of the 25,248,458 faces i can’t see their feet because they are gliding. i glide with them and I become the 25,248,459th face we smile together and the stares equate to food for the heart. submerging from my world and back into this world.beats pound my eardrum but it doesn’t separate us in fact it unifies us. just another layer to shed and hang up to air dry.
Shanghai has proven to be increasingly beautiful. there is so much here. Below are just a sliver of what I have seen here, everywhere I look I am just totally inspired by what this city has to offer. The pictures can speak for me, as they have..
We saw a show on the past 30 years of contemporary Chinese art at the Minshing Gallery of Art in Shanghai. This one stuck out to me for many reasons..
Meng Luding “New Era-Apocalypto of Adam and Eve” oil on canvas 1985
So the internet has been kinda shotty hence the reason we have not updated recently, not to mention we are increasingly winding down, getting “buttered out” as Jack put it…I am really beginning to miss home even though Shanghai is one of the most stimulating places I have ever been in my life. There are buildings everywhere, people everywhere and for miles and miles you just see layer upon layer of buildings and wires.
The language thing is getting better, we have really been using all the words ( that is if they understand what word I am trying to say) that Wei has taught us. You would think that having Mandarin lessons since mid January would put us in a good space, there is just so much to learn and actually I am pretty proud at how much of the language we have learned considering we only met once or twice a week for an hour we have done pretty well…and the people here have so much more respect for us because we know the language. It makes bargaining easier, and casual conversation is not out of the question which can’t be said for many of the foreigners I have met here. Many of them dont even know how to say “hello” or “Where is the bathroom”, the basics.
We have our exam on Sunday, our language exam. I am pretty confident.
I have also been thinking about the Studio project for the course, which I am pretty excited about and urge everyone to come see it in October, Jack and I will set up an installation based on our experience in Beijing, Shanghai and Chengdu.
God, the Expo was insane. so many people. the lines were so long, this woman from Singapore was telling us that she waited for 4 hours to go into the Japan pavillion and it sucked. She also said the USA pavilion was hella popular with the Chinese, yeah, imagine that..
We took a peek inside of the USA pavilion, what did we see? the corporate sponsors who funded the pavilion lined up on a wall, their logos shining brightly under the track lighting..we thought it was pretty hilarious, but the line looked long and it was entertaining to walk around in front of it and yeah, I actually felt a little pride bubble swelling up inside of me. believe that.
We have seen some art galleries, today we went to the RockBund Art Museum and saw the opening exhibition of the museum. It was Cai Gou Qiang “Peasant DaVinci’s” and it was pretty great. Get RAMed
So Chengdu is alot like Portland it only gets 100 days of sun..actually that is the ONLY thing that this place and Portland have in common..it is very relaxed here..well I guess there are two things..but this city is still pretty big. about 4 million…we have been in the mountains the past two days..these pictures are from a Daoist temple on the side of a mountain..and holy ass..we climbed.and climbed.and climbed. into the beautiful rainy mist that is the mountains of Sichuan province..
Before that we visited an ancient irrigation project at the mouth of two rivers..it was amazingly beautiful. in the mountains. raging waters and temples protruding out of the trees..rickety bridges that cross rushing waters to temples across the water.
today was our first full day in chengdu and it has been really fun! we went to the panda research center and I will give you one guess what we saw… they were black and white and pooped right in front of us…
while you’re guessing I should say we saw a ton of coi fish today. coi are closely related to catfish, they squirmed around the dock like maggots, waiting for someone to throw them food. They are very strange creatures, something like a cross between a seagull and a shark. and a catfish.
The taxi drivers are very different than the ones in Beijing, they are much more risky and fast. We did a lot today, an ancient archeological site, a chengdu market, delicious SPICY food!
I will leave you with an adorable lady trying to figure out a prayer wheel in the lama temple I saw before we left beijing. She was truly perplexed.
Mr. Philip Tinari, Founder of Leap Magazine, an international contemporary art magazine based in Beijing, Contributing editor of Art Forum, and advisor to Art BASEL and the Christy..he is visiting Portland in the fall…listen to him speak when he comes.
these are photos from a side street in a hutong in front of the Forbidden City front gate (Qiananmen)...I ate here with some guys I met traveling from Canada….we ate.drank..and at around 9 pm…the cops started walking down the street to make sure everything was alright…PANIC...everyone started running, apparently you cannot have tables outside of restaurants in this neighborhood…you dont fuck with the government here.
I got naked in a Chinese bath house..and watched an old (by American standards cheezy) “martial arts” film…
“where are you from?”
I just say Chicago now because no one here knows what I say when I say Portland.
We ate with Wei’s family.
who have filled me with so much joy and love. they are great people. who have really treated us so beautifully.
Yeah. I got acupuncture today..we talked at length about Chinese medicine..well.not really medicine more than the philosophy behind it…
I forget sometimes if I am an artist or a philosopher…
so to further muddle this statement I will now jot down some notes from the lectures we have attended this past week…
all I can say about this past week is..
I love Beijing and Beijing loves Me…(and no I did not sit in a room with a tiger with the China Daily News)
The Dao is the way and the circulation of Chi allows the physical body to channel energy throughout the blood vessels-
The eternal dance of the dragon and the snake-
Chinese poetry describes the sensation of color/movement/smell/sound….Li Bai, Wang, Yang Ming
Does the government have more influence on the people.. or do the people have more influence on the government?
(I can tell you straight up for real that last night I experienced the fear of the government here…no one here fucks around, however, the level of respect for one’s place in society has something to say..a foreign concept to America, yes, yet in a country of over 1.3 billion…there isnt much room for complacency)
—When studying another religion it is vital to understand that cultures religious/supernatural/cosmological core ideologies
—zong(family;lineage)jiao(education;morality on behavior) is the loose term for the chinese concept of institutionalized religion
—party members cannot acknowledge they are spiritual to the public
—1st element of Chinese politics-secrecy.2nd element.hierarchy.3rd element.bureaucracy.4th.authority
______the names that can be named are not eternal names______
we are not separate from our lived experiences
I dreamt I was a buttefly…am I a butterfly? I dreamt I was a butterfly, I felt like a butterfly…am I a butterfly or a human…..
her death made him happy because he could not control it
family reverence is the root of human-ness
Artists&Sincerity-through devotion you sacrifice yourself to a cause, potentially to art
Beijing has been incredible! every expectation I have had about visiting this country has been completely flipped! Today we had a beautiful lecture on chinese medicine, the treat afterwords was we were treated to acupuncture. My ears were FULL of pins, and Michael had a deep message with a needle! I felt very clearheaded! but also nervous not to bump the pins!
Michael and I also took a visit to a second buddhist temple, I was so excited about Lama Temple on sunday, that I was ready to go again. I am lucky Michael convinced me to go to a different, and much more intimate temple. It was so lovely walking around the place, very few people around, monks dilligently performing duties. The whole experience was very cinematic. I have to say, that these buddhist temples really remind you how far you are from the states. It is difficult to negotiate the excitement of wanting to experience the place like the native chinese and realizing you are a visiter, and giving the place the respect it deserves from someone who is more than an outsider.
I am very anxious to see what Chengdu and Shanghai are like. It is going to be very exciting to be able to compare Chinese cities. So far, Beijing has exceeded my expectation. We have had the chance to meet Professor Wei’s family, who have treated us exceptionally well. The truly strange thing is that while visiting this city, that is in many ways so different than what we are used to in the U.S., everything comes very naturally. Being introduced to strange foods and unfamiliar customs comes easy when it is being introduced by such a hospitable family and unique culture.
<3 come visit us here!!! :-)
I want to clarify that this is not a trip where I am running around Beijing visiting sites and being American..I know alot of the posts so far have been centered on the places I have seen and what i have experienced outside of the program…but the photos are results of the travels within the city..which have been an integral part of the program..however, the people we are meeting are such vital components in the emerging chinese art scene, and in turn, the global art scene..
we are not meeting local artists
we are meeting international professionals who are experts in their fields and i feel privileged to have met them. and this experience would not be the same without all the people I have met so far.
Just to recap the lectures:
5.27-Understanding China’s Art Production through Chinese Religion and Philosophy—-Dr. Zhang Aihau…she told us about Confucianism, Daoism, and Buddhism and the influence these three spiritual practices have not only on Chinese cutlure but historically Chinese art
5.28-China’s Politics—-Dr. Russell Moses…we talked about the current political climate in China and its social and cross-cultural implications. He is a contributor to the Wall Street Journal and has been a viable international source on Chinese politics to the west.
5.29-5.30 Markets, Forbidden City, Llama Temple, walking, talking, eating amazing food, laughing at funny people dancing, people laughing at me because I am American and awkward…
5.31-China’s Religion—-Dr. Huang Jianbo…This lecture was very different from the lecture led by Dr. Aihau, however, we did cover concepts of Daoism and Confucianism. We talked about western influence in Chinese religion, among other things and conversed about this influence on contemporary Chinese art
6.1-Dr. Chinese music and aesthetics—-Dr. Roberts..,just listen to the gujin..I covered this yesterday.
6.2- Today my mind was shattered by Dr. Wen Haiming. He just wrote a book about “Confucian Pragmatism” and good god, is this man an intellectual..we had such a stimulating conversation about artist as martyr, sacrifice in a western sense and the concept of creativity in China as compared to the west…
everyday we meet at least 2 people..one a professor. we have a lecture. a discussion..and intellectual buffet if you will between the four of us…
and after that it is straight to studio visits with artists..we have visited these artists so far (in chronological order):
Ai Weiwei’s studio
The culture and diversity here is tenfold that of anything America might offer and it is evident in the talks and visits we have had with both westerners living here and practicing Chinese artists and professors.
Tainanmen Square. hot hot sun. the intersection before the city is as big as an American city block.
pavement fills what 2 high rises take up back home.
my bag goes in the security check. comes out. I am free. freer than I feel
“I am from New York, will you take a picture of us?”
Tiananmen Square. what does America know about this place?
OH.yeah. that place.
that place filled with families, the cement covers alot of ground. and covers up even more.
but if I have learned one thing from Beijing it is that there is no looking back. if you dont move forward, you dont move. The history permeates every breathe so there is no need to re-live the past.
appreciation, respect, community, admiration. love. that is what people feed me here. that is what they say to me.
Ya know..I learned about 4 days here that if you just smile, people will smile back
why do I have to represent America?
I am not American. I am an ingredient in the stew..but here, I am an ambassador of sorts. a civilian ambassador. a person among millions that brings the west full circle back east.
I met 3 guys today, traveling from Tibet, Nepal, Vietnam, Korea, Northern China…from Vancouver BC.
“Yeah we have been here a month.”
we sit sit sit.
we eat eat eat.
until we get shut down
until the blue shirts walk in a line.
I am American.
China is beautiful.
these places are similar because they are so different
We met with Philip Tinari, who is the foreign editor of Artforum and the creator of Leap Magazine here in China…
he will be in Portland in the fall to talk about the Ai Weiwei exhibit at Museum of Contemporary Craft..
I will expand after I decompress.
Shopping is a trip, its a trip and its a task. shopping is a task. it requires you to shed your skin. and build it up again. shopping? shopping is not a big deal. you go into a store and you pay the pretty woman money for the expensive thing made in china..you pay the money to the person who puts it in the computer. you give your money and its gone.
it was never there to begin with
you give your money away.
you dont fight, you dont feel.
you dont taste. you dont see.
you give it away without consulting your senses, your gut, your emotion, your heart, your mind. you give it.because that is why you got it.
you got it in order to get rid of it.
its not so different here because here it is not the same. its not so different here because here it is not the same.
is it worth the fight? or should I just bow to the cultural divide. i already gave you my pride, my shell, my meaningless self attributes for this article.
i gave you a part of me for a material that hurts your life.
i gave you a sliver for something that cost you a chunk.
i dont think this trade is about money,
i dont think this trade is fair.
i think this trade is about cross continental pride.
the other side…the western side of the big water holds tight.
so tight in fact that it fights so hard to hold on.
hold on to what?
pride, self identity?
insecurity and greed?
no no no.
we hold on to what we know.
what do we know?
Today we had a lecture on the Chinese aesthetic and music with Dr. Roberts (hes a new and better man, he helps you to understand, he does everything he can…Dr. Roberts)... We talked about the gujin, an ancient Chinese instrument which he came here to learn how to play. It is a beautiful instrument. We talked about differences between eastern and western aesthetics. In the west (Renaissance paintings, etc…) the focus tends to be on the progression and acquisition of knowledge where as in the east focus was concentrated on man and nature and the cyclical nature of life (ie; Chinese landscape artists) He showed us some works from Xia Gui ( and others)
we went on to talk about terms that describe Chinese aesthetics and help explain/understand particularly Doaist influenced paintings.
ren yu kong jian da chang yi pian
(people and space merge together)
qi yun sheng dong
We went on to talk about Western influence on particularly Chinese music.. which came on the scene in the early 1900’s. Rock music in Beijing started in the 80’s and was aided by political unrest among many Chinese youth..
all and all it was really interesting
After that we went to Yang Xinguang who had his work up at a gallery not to far from Ai Wei Weis. He is working with alot of wood, sculptural objects. His work is great, once again Wei had to interpret but this time it was a little less intense. He was very soft spoken and his work reflected his calm demeanor. I couldnt find a website but here is a review of his work. I will upload some pictures of the visit later..
Yang Xinguang article: Time Out
So this is at the Temple of Heaven. This is a park. This is a place where people dance and sing, older people to recapture their youth. This is a store. This is a store. This is a store, this is a store where you buy souvenirs. It had just finished raining and the lighting was beautiful.
She was gettin down. in fact there was a whole group of about 100 people gettin down. to some lil wayne. no joke. I hope my future wife doesn’t get upset but I have a date with her too. This is in the Temple of Heaven Park.
Beautiful. Beautiful. Up here you could see a good chunk of Beijing, did I mention there are 23 MILLION people who live in this city? This city is HUGE. Nothing in America compares.. literally more than 3x the size of New York City. the taxi drivers on several occasions have turned us down because they don’t even know the entire city. However, this temple was a place where the emperor would give sacrifices, not human, for good harvest, good fortune, etc…also this is the place where people gather and do group tai chi. Here I stood among a group of over 100 people all singing in unison old folk Chinese melodies. It was one of the most beautiful experiences I have had so far..
random street where I was sitting and eating a peach. a woman came up to me and I played with her baby for a minute. she knew little english but we had a conversation. It is so great, this language barrier. It is teaching me alot about how I communicate and how to better communicate.
We had a lecture today with Dr. Huang Jianbo. We discussed religion or as he likes to say “religiousities” in China. It was so interesting to learn about how Christianity has infiltrated the Chinese religious scene. In fact, until the 19th century there was not even a word for religion in Chinese, this is due to the fact that SPIRITUALITY was as much a part of daily life as eating, drinking and breathing. Religion as an institution is a foreign idea, and one met with resistance from not only the government but citizens alike. There are 5 state approved religions here. Catholicism and Protestantism are two separate religions, and the Party members cannot acknowledge that they are practicing members of any religious community. According to Dr. Jianbo there are roughly 110-130 million people in this country that identify as Protestant. I found that so interesting. Buddhism is still the number one religion of most Chinese people. We talked, asked questions. It was so stimulating and so interesting.
After that we met with Ma Quisha MaQuisha who had a video up at last years TBA festival. She was so intelligent, very nice and such an amazing artist. Here is the link. We went to her apartment, met her dog and cat. Talked about Chinese art from a true Chinese artist, Wei had to translate. which was so interesting to experience. Not being able to communicate directly affected me differently than I thought. Not being able to have one to one contact but having to go through someone required much more effort than I ever would have thought and I learned a very important lesson in cross cultural language barriers..
Peace out brothers and sisters
Its true, everywhere I go I hear western music. It is hilarious. Today a woman in the park was twirling ribbons listening to lil wayne…amazing.
Forbidden City was HUGE and amazing and mesmerizing. A woman hit me because I was taking a picture and she was in it. so she hit me on the arm with a bundle of papers and was yelling at me in Chinese. I say dui bu qioa (spelling? prounounced doo-ae-boo-chyea..means I apologize) The people here are so fiesty, unguarded,and not self conscious at all.. it is so refreshing. people walk in the park singing and dancing without a care in the world.and they are not looked at as crazies like they are back home, in fact I respect them. I think I will start doing that, we’ll see how that goes over.
We also went to Panjiayuan Market…by the way. you bargain for everything in China. seriously everything besides food you can bargain for. they love people like me because I am westerner and easily taken advantage of. I bargained yesterday with this woman for a 4 sided Buddha head, she started at 750 RMB, I got her down to 80 RMB..not too bad huh, Wei told me I coulda gone lower.. there was also an odd collection of these penises carved out of stone..I mean ALOT of stone carved penises…why? I have no clue, but I found it amazingly entertaining..and took alot of pictures of them..
Every second is something completely new and beautiful, I have been shooting like a madman, however, the internet here is so finnicky it is proving tough to get them all to load. but here is some more
Chinese Opera. so funny. and awesomely beautiful. It was funny because the English translation of the chinese characters sometimes didn’t make sense. For example when the warrior was announcing to the audience about her enemy she (who is traditionally really a he) announced…“I will let him not a single warrior remains”..we got the gist. China is kinda like that, ya just kinda get the gist of it and run with it.
Entrance to Ai Wei Wei’s studio, he has got a compound. with chickens, a duck, the cutest three dogs that were rescued from the recent earthquake in southern China (I stepped in their poop). We saw his warehouse full of art from his past shows. super fun
a street. the city blocks here are not just city blocks. each block is an entire community, there are shops, food stands, people out talking laughing, starring at me because I am American and then smiling after I look at them back for long enough. I say “mei gou ren” and they smile (that translates to something like I am American people)
A shop by the hotel. there are hundreds upon hundreds upon millions of these here. all the shops are just filled to the brim. some are a mix of everything, some are normal. but for some reason they are so much more interesting than western side shops.
Olafur Elliason exhibit at Ullens Center for Contemporary Art..AMAZING. a big room filled with smoke and ambient changing light. don’t know where you are. what is in front of you. it was an experience, not a work of art. don’t get it twisted
I cant say enough about how thankful I am for this experience, Wei has done so much to set up an amazing experience for us. We are busy from 9 am to about 3 everyday. morning lectures, afternoon artist studio visits. The people we have met here are all very accomplished and so excited to talk to us, as we are to them.
Zai jiang! (goodbye!)
In Beijing we have had the opportunity to meet a lot of amazing people who are living, working, and studying china in the capital city. We have three hour lectures that are intimate and captivating.
Russel Moses is the Dean of Students at the Beijing Center for Chinese Studies. He is a correspondent for the Wall Street Journal and frequently does television interviews for news stations in the States. He gave a lecture on Chinese politics and government.
Dr. Zhang Aihau helped us understand Chinese religion and philosophy by describing the affect of Confucianism, Taoism, and Buddhism on Chinese culture. She is a teacher at The Beijing Center.
We have an amazing day in store today, we are visiting an antique flea market where we will test our Mandarin and bargaining skills. Afterwords we will visit the Forbidden City. We will update you on the artists we have been seeing soon!
I already feel like I have been here two weeks.
On the way down from the Great Wall..there are no stairs..there is a tobbogan slide..that is for real. The communication barrier is becoming more apparent each day, however, the people here are very patient and often amused when I don’t know what to say. The food here is amazing, and it is true that true Chinese food has NOTHING on the American version. I am rich here, each meal rounds out to about 7 bucks..and we don’t just get an entree, we each get about two and share. Between the three of us we have managed to sample a variety of traditional northern Chinese cuisine.
We also met with Rania Ho, originally from San Francisco she is now living in Beijing and is co-owner of the Arrow Factory. The gallery is wedged in between vegetable stands and markets on a narrow side street in a residential area right down the street from the Confucius Temple.
Rania said that the main point of the gallery was to bring art back into the flow of daily life. By setting up a gallery in the middle of a residential area this space allows the community to see the importance of art in daily life, which is a somewhat foreign idea to a majority of the Chinese population.