Thursday, March 09, 2006

Beijing Day Three

Today, Shi Jianmin, (one of the Beijing artists that is in the same show I am in "Inspired by China") came to pick us up and drove us around town. He makes this furniture that's almost calligraphic in form and gesture and most are made of made of steel chrome. Shi doesn't speak very much english but is a very friendly person and quite interesting. I most certainly appreciate his gesture and generosity. He lives in what he considered to be the "SoHo" of Beijing; his studio/loft which was quite amazing! He had a koi pond recessed in his floor, an open steel staircase that leads to their private living quarters upstairs. he and his wife lives in a converted loft/studio/showroom in a former factory building. Then he drove us to another artists' studio, Shao Fan - unfortunately Shao was in Hong Kong so I didn't get to see him but his sister showed us the living space/studio, oh my god these people must have tons of money. They have a brand new place in a sort of gated artists community outside of Beijing and it is HUGE - I'd be embarrassed to show my small studio to both these guys if they ever came to California.

We went to lunch in a very nice restaurant, the food was soooo good, and the restaurant was very modern and contemporary. it's fun to watch Shi eat peanuts with his chopsticks. I tried and they kept popping off. It is a luxury to eat when someone else orders for us.

We then went to a gallery area not too far from Shi's studio - one contemporary gallery reminded me of the old pop 70s art - large political figurines, parodying Mao - Mao in various poses and in garish colors. As luci reminded me, China lost several generations of artists in the revolution and so the art scene is just starting to wake up. the younger artists are producing the most provocative work - I have to say they are more bold than the artists and their work I have seen in Japan.

A few notes about the trip thus far:

the bed felt like several bales of hay and I swear that I have bruises from sleeping on it. However we are now staying at the Hyatt in Xian and boy am I loving it. 24 hour internet for the next few days too.

our taxi karma has been the absolute worst; mostly because of the location of the hotel but then when we flew into Xian, the cockroaches er I mean scammy taxi drivers descended upon us and I literally had to go into pitbull mode. I kept telling him to go away but then Luci would look at him and try to understand what he was staying and man I was getting pissed because its hard work to keep these guys at bay and then she undoes it. I can understand that but I think its cuz these guys are asian and back in the states most asians are pretty cool and so she feels like they are her brothers or something. Brothers my ass.

The women in general are nazis and run the show at all the businesses - most of the nicer hotel staff both here at Beijing and Xian have all been men and but the women are bitches. (except the taxi roaches and the gangs of men who have nothing to do) hate to sound like a male basher but it seems maybe it relates to the disproportionate ratio of men to women around here. And tonight Luci and I ate at this great dim sum place down the street from our hotel - and when the waitress found out we didn't speak chinese she sort of rolled her eyes.

The airport was a bit of a pain - we are both kicking ourselves for bringing too much shit. I can't help myself, but I have to admit that maybe bringing all that underwear was a mistake. the box of books doesn't help either but I can't unload this until I go to Nanjing and Shenzhen.

Someone asked me about the money - its very confusing and it is starting to feel like I am playing monopoly, "ok put a few hotels on my hutong for 500 yuan". lets see, 100 yuan is worth $12.50 US. and so a taxi tonight cost 6 Yuan, which amounts to 72 cents. but it gets complicated when something is say 6.3 yuan. then you get these baby ones called Mao, they are also called winky dinkies (my words) and they are 1/10th of a yuan.

okay so now I have to write my transcript for my lecture, I get this request from my hosts JUST THE OTHER DAY - hello, couldn't you have asked me a month ago????

Xian looks like a really fun town, sort of a miniaturized version of tokyo but munchkin size. lots of lights neon, and yes, asian people but the buildings are not tall. We will head to see the bajillion terracotta warriors tomorrow, I can't wait!


Post a Comment

<< Home