Friday, February 26, 2010

Yang Yang (b. 1969) -- 命题游戏之一 (?A Game of Fate Pt 1?)

What I thought was a striking piece from painter Yang Yang. Not much on her in English but I was really rapt by these baroque riffs on Botticelli that seem to run through her work. Some more of it here (a compendium of prominent female painters) and here (which has some bio information too.) It also rang a bell and then it struck me! Porcelain bust on cover of the NYRB ed. of Eileen Chang's "Love in a Fallen City."

Found after browsing Art Scene China's site -- they have I think one of the biggest showrooms in the 798 space, though I may be wrong. [[798 is a Bauhaus-era textile factory abandoned then transformed into the art district of Beijing. My lasting impression when I went -- via motorcycle the summer after my freshman year, due to some botched directions -- was some artist who was popping EEG headgear onto unwilling participants and asking them to use their beta-waves to paint lotuses with lasers on the warehouse floor.]]

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Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Bucky Fuller and the Chinese Secretary of Communications, 1979

"In 1979, Fuller was invited by the Chinese Secretary of Communications for a three week visit. On arrival in Peking, Fuller was asked by his host: "How low would it take to make a complete disclosure of your general philosophy of the grand strategy of problem solving?" Fuller replied: "Sixteen hours."

"...according to a recent report, Fuller's 1963 book Operating Manual for Spaceship Earth is number one on the list of the ten most widely read American books in the People's Republic of China today."

- From Introduction to Humans in the Universe. R. Buckminster Fuller and Anwar Dil. 1983

Search prompted by latest issue of Volume, which included a project set up as a tribute to Fuller: "Buckminster Fuller showed us how minimal energy domes could open a way to a more environmentally sustainable future, could an umbrella dome lead the way to a more socially sustainable future? The Bucky Bar is a full-scale model of such a future."

Above is "Tensile-Integrity Structures Tensegrity from the portfolio Inventions: Twelve Around One."

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Monday, February 22, 2010

"Locked Out -- Beijing's Border Abuse Exposed" Perry Link in NYRBlog

"On February 12, Chinese human rights campaigner Feng Zhenghu was allowed to return to Shanghai after a 92-day stay in diplomatic limbo at the Tokyo Narita airport. Having left China last April to visit family in Japan, Feng, who is a Chinese citizen, was repeatedly denied reentry by Chinese immigration officials; when he was sent back to Tokyo last November, he remained in the Tokyo airport in protest, waiting for the Chinese government to change its mind. The international press has portrayed Feng as a solitary figure, pursuing an admirable if somewhat flamboyant quest for his personal rights. But the point of Feng’s protest goes much, much deeper than the fate of one man, and Feng hopes that the world will understand why."

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Sunday, February 21, 2010

"Ink Mountain":: via NeochaEDGE

I think I've posted briefly about NeochaEDGE's consultancy wing before -- but the core of the group is their successful launch of a MySpace for Chinese hipsters.(More properly -- a social networking site for creative artists in China, and hugely popular.) But also they have a great blog. A featured piece from the other day by Shadow Chen from Ningbo above. They posted a set of animated shorts from promising artists that I LOVED earlier this year/late last year.

I also came across this London-based group of designers recently - Chinese Design Region -- but haven't dug much.

Given the much spoken significance of Obama's meeting w/ the Dalai Lama taking place in the map room, I've been cobbling together a post on old maps from the Tibeto-Sino border. Secondly I've been thinking recently about how much of a cultural arbiter Howard Goldblatt has been, and how awesome he is generally.

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Tuesday, February 16, 2010

NYT - "Tracing the Path to Chinese Finesse "

Posting a NYT review of a new exhibit at the Met -- “Mastering the Art of Chinese Painting: Xie Zhiliu (1910-1997)." The review points to a "curiously dispassionate, not to say bloodless" feel to the work, but emphasizes that the exhibit's worth is largely in its revelation of method:

"... it is not for artistic merit that Xie’s work is on view. Maxwell K. Hearn, the exhibition’s organizer and a curator of Chinese painting and calligraphy at the Met, explained in an interview that the show’s main significance is in what it reveals about methods used by traditional artists. It turns out that the kind of graceful naturalism that Xie achieved in his best works came not from extensive study of nature but by tracing over and over the works of other artists on sheets of semitransparent paper.

If Xie’s procedures typified the way artists had been working for centuries, as Mr. Hearn said they do, then it challenges the idea that Chinese art is as deeply grounded in real-life experience and observation of nature as is commonly believed. Copying was the royal road to aesthetic perfection."

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Monday, February 15, 2010

Hello Kitty Instantiated

I saw these two Hello Kitty related pop-ups in Shanghai mentioned on the Asian Art Museum blog recently, and the magnetic pull of Sanrio pulled me further. I was pulled back to some of the most pleasant flights I've ever had, on EVA Air, which happened to be on EVA's "Hello Kitty Jet" (left).

  • Shanghai's No. 6 line, which is the only to run only in Pudong, is named the "Hello Kitty Line" -- all accents are a happy shade of pink. [Pictures via Wangjianshuo's blog]
  • Listed as one of the "most bizarre hostels in the world," the Hello Kitty Houses -- also in Shanghai -- offer luxury amid cat-shaped chairs and lots of pink ribbons. [More photos here.]
  • But forget not Bank of America's recent launch of Hello-Kitty themed debit accounts. And the MAC makeup line? And the Hello Kitty Parachute Paradise iPhone game?
  • The question on the mind of every 11 year old in Sanrio Puroland: How can Sanrio have so effectively leveraged their brand to move from fast moving consumer goods (FMCG) to full blown infrastructure projects?
  • Scholarship holds the answer. Perhaps we may find the key in this business case study on SUPERbranding. Or this one, which guides the young entrepreneur through Hello Kitty's move towards unisexual appeal. See also "Hello Kitty and the Identity Politics in Taiwan" for a post-colonial perspective. Or "Japan's Gross National Cool" (Foreign Policy) for an international relations perspective. "Hello Kitty Items a Global Rage in “Zen cuteness” (Japan Times) may touch on problems of religious syncretism as well. Hello Kitty Darth Vader has a magnum opus cooking on this one.

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Thursday, February 11, 2010

Artspeak China - Rauschenberg

A fantastic new bilingual wiki for contemp. Chinese art - Artspeak China. The easy interface organizes information by major artists, events, institutions and movements. Already, according to Shanghaiist, garnering tens of thousands of hits per day.

My first dally in - Rauschenberg's 1985 exhibit at the Beijing National Gallery - the first officially sanctioned American exhibit since the 30s. [[ Purchase Rauschenberg's piece, left, "China Tour, 1985" here.]] From the article:
"Author Zhang Zhaohui recalls: “The exhibition halls were crowded with people who felt refreshed by a totally new form of art that they did not quite yet understand. It served to excite young Chinese artists' enthusiasm to learn from him, and the show proved a stimulant to the nascent avant-gardemovement. Overnight, a number of Chinese artists began producing 'ready-mades' and installations, and hundreds of avant-garde art groups and experimental art exhibitions appeared.”
The moment was a decisive game-changer for the direction of modern Chinese art. And there is likely no shortage of commentary on how Rauschenberg's ready-mades may have, to the bureaucrat charged with the thumbs-up or down, seemed like innocuous objects properly flaked off of the great stream of capitalist production slowly opening to the PRC. (Coded in there, too, I bet, is a sophisticated albeit unconscious theory of the political limits of irony.)

Further Reading I hope to wade through:

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