Accidental Installation

Last night a few Red Gate Residency artists had an exhibition in Bei Gao.  My wonderful next-door neighbors, Britt Salt and Jon Hewitt hosted an exhibition in their space.  Check out on of their recent collaborative projects here.  They invited me to open my doors as well.  Lisa Anderson, another resident in Bei Gao, showed some of her work in my studio.  It was a truly wonderful night that I will blog about more.  I also plan to introduce you to my fellow residents at some point.

Above is my Accidental Installation.  Along with working on the Body Project I have been reacquainting myself with painting.  I have 5 paintings finished and three were up last night.  The one above is of a mangosteen.  It fit well in my kitchen area on the little hutch and I had a bowl with a pear in it that I was painting.  Put together with a spot light and a kitschy domestic scene was born!

Thank you to everyone, especially my Chad, for making Saturday such a wonderful event!

Summer Palace

On Friday Chad, Mom, and Dad and I ventured to the Summer Palace.  It was a beautiful place and we visited on a cool and clear  day.  This post has some pictures that Chad and I took together.  Enjoy!

Our day consisted mostly of walking around looking at different sites but we also managed to taste test the local fare, take a boat ride across the lake, have some photo shoots with other toursits, and get our names painted.

A fantastic photograph taken by Chad with the main part of the palace in the background.

Mom and Dad are amazing (and in the air RIGHT NOW!)  🙂

My favorite camera man!

 

Ai Weiwei Released

I woke up this morning to an email stating that Ai Weiwei was released from 81 days of detainment.  He is now a 10 minute can ride from where i am staying in Beijing!  Obviously, many news sources have covered the story.  Below is a screen shot of a portion of the email i received from Alison Klayman and  Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry.   Please check out the links!

Links:

New York Times: Ai Weiwei, DIssident Artist is Released

Huffington Post: Chinese Artist Ai Weiwei Released from Chinese Prison (VIDEO)

Los Angeles Times: China frees artist Ai Weiwei on bail

 

Tea Ceremony

Yesterday a few of the residency artists, my family and I attended at tea ceremony at a local artist/Red Gate Gallery assistant’s home.  Liao is an amazing artist and very generously shared with us his home, studio, and the rich culture of tea in China.  He shared about 4 different teas with us and gave us a full description of their taste and history.

Above you can see the main components of the ceremony.  The tea sits in the brown pot or something similar (for a very short time), get poured into the clear vessel, and then distributed among the guests.  The tongs are for getting the tea out of the pot once the tea leaves have been sufficiently used.  The pot on the right (and below) is for the used tea leaves.  The stand which the items are standing on is slotted so that water call fall through.  It is a very wet and organic process.  We drank out of very tiny tea cups which helped us savor the individual teas.

 

My father eloquently and succinctly summarized their amazing day yesterday.  I am borrowing his words, “Day 3: 798 Art District (witnessed a wedding proposal with about 75 dancers in red hats, a red carpet, and prospective groom in a black tux); Chad!; Kate’s studio; Chinese tea with several artists served by a local artist in his studio (sampled several special teas); dinner for 7 at a hidden restaurant near Kate’s studio–incredible local fare (total bill about $15!). Excited for day 4, but its 3 a.m.”
Chad and I unfortunately missed the proposal.  Though, I do love this proposal from a couple of years ago!

The Great Wall and the Forbidden City (With Katiedid and the Commander)

On Saturday my parents arrived in China!  Last night Chad arrived!  I am one happy lady.  All three of them have hit the ground running.  On Sunday, an old friend took us to the Great Wall and the Ming Dynasty Tombs.  Yesterday, Mom, Dad and I visited the Forbidden City.  Below are some pictures from those two days, enjoy!  (Most of the photos were taken by my Dad!)

Our trip to the wall consisted of a gondola ride up, a long hike on the wall, and a toboggan ride back down.  We had an absolutely amazing time and I don’t think Mom and Dad could have picked a better first day adventure.  Above are a few beautiful shots of the wall that my Dad took.  Below is a photo of me, Mom, and Mark from the end of our Wall visit.  Notice all of the vendors below.

After the Wall Mark took us to an amazing restaurant/glass blowing studio converted from an old school.  Daddy had a lovely Father’s Day lunch!  “Dad’s Eat Free!”  It was such a treat to be with my Dad on Father’s Day.  It was a rare, wonderful occasion.

After lunch we headed to the Ming Dynasty Tombs.  Dad took some great shots but I particularly like this photo of Mao resting in the same place where we took a rest.

On Day 2 Mom and Dad were still going strong!  We visited the very large/long Forbidden City.  Below is a picture of a friend I made.

Welcome to China, Katiedid and the Commander!

Cyborg Pieta

Pin Gallery in 798 is currently hosting Bad Exhibition. It is a fantastic exhibition and if you are in the area I suggest visiting.  To learn more about it look at this article from CAFA Art Info.   The work above is of particular interest to me.  Lee Yong Baek, a South Korean artist, created Pieta in 2008.  It is an installation made of FRP and iron plates.   It is incredibly striking measuring 400 x 240 x 320 centimeters (157 x 94 x 126 inches).  Last semester I revisited Donna Haraway’s Cyborg Manifesto.   In the manifesto she states that, ““[a] cyborg is a cybernetic organism, a hybrid of machine and organism, a creature or social reality as well as a creature of fiction” (Haraway 7).

I have appropriated the idea of a cyborg into a way to look at gender–pulling apart a body and reconstructing it.  All bodies are just a collection of parts.    Lee Yong Baek conceptually merges an archetypal symbol of Western art with this idea of the body as non-human.  A Pieta is usually Mary holding Jesus–a female holding a male.  I like to look at these figures as ambiguously gendered but they are most likely two males.

Body Project in The Village

Yesterday evening Adrienne and I ventured into the village in which we live, Bei Gao, to work on the Body Project.  I had no idea what to expect.  We started at one end of the village and approached groups of people that were sitting or standing and not in conversation, working, or eating.  People were willing to take the card and interact with us but hardly anyone was willing to actually fill out the card.  Whole groups would stop and everyone would gather around or just watch from a distance.  We tried miming, I tried drawing an example card but it was still difficult to convey our goals and help them feel comfortable with the project.  While trying to give information I also wanted to avoid guiding their responses.  Above is an image of two young hair stylist who were willing to contribute.  Below, another contributor and his less interested friend.

Overall, men in the village seemed much more willing to participate.  That being said, a main component of the Body Project is researching what kind of language people use to describe their bodies–I am specifically interested in non-gendered language.  I try not to read the cards until I have a bundle so that I  read what people say about their bodies without having preconceived notions about them.

The men above were selling some kind of hard alcohol outside of one of the main stores in Bei Gao (and across from our favorite restaurant).  Adrienne and I noticed the shopkeeper that we interact with regularly and approached her and her helpers.  The purple shirted men noticed and took cards as well.  Soon the whole corner was full of people curious about what we were doing and snagging tastes of booze.  We passed out tons of cards and pens and got about 10 responses in a very intense 10 minutes–it was exhilarating!

Last night was a wonderful experience.  We were able to interact with the people that we pass in the streets every day.  I feel like I learned a lot about them and I hope that they feel the same way–now they know what some of us are up to.  The aspect of engagement is what I love about this project.

73 Days–Ai Weiwei

I just received an email update from the documentary film Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry.  If you are unfamiliar with the artist I highly suggest looking at the twenty minute Frontline Video Who’s Afraid of Ai Weiwei. Alison Klayman is a journalist and documentary filmmaker who is head ing up the project.  If you are interested, here are a few links that were included in the email I received:

Roundup Coverage From MIT Press

Financial Times

Forbes

Enjoy the links.

Where’s Waldo

I recently visited a gallery in 798 called Sky Moca.  The gallery space currently features one artist, known as Ding Xiongquan in Beijing and known as Walasse Ting in Europe.  The exhibition was simple and clean.  My first thought when I walked in was of a conversation I had last winter with one of my SAIC professors.  We discussed that the two categories for artwork that we like–one, art we would like to own and two, art that we’d like to write about.  When I entered Sky MocaI initially thought that the gallery held artwork I’d put in the “art I’d like to own” category.

As I strolled around the gallery I was amused by the vibrant colors that would beautifully accent my bright red and white 50’s diner-esque kitchen table set.  Though, I quickly realized that the artwork, though beautiful, quickly began to offend me.   Almost every single work out the the 20 or so in the room exposed one intimate part of a woman.  Women, lounging around in pretty flowers, half nude.  I understand the selection for a cohesive exhibition but I am curious about the intentions of the artist.  As a collection the work became a (very easy) Where’s Waldo book.  Each painting simply highlights a select part of the female figure.

Ding Xiongquan/Walasse Ting is represented by Christies.  He is obviously a well established artist known throughout the international art community.  A Google search brought me work that is very similar to what I saw at Sky Moca.  Ding/Ting has found a nitch and stuck to it.  His nitch is one I truly like aesthetically but do not care for contextually.  Below is an image of one wall that was different from the others in the gallery.  Instead of lightly clad loungers, two paintings that are a bit smaller than the main lot feature women in traditional costume.  These two paintings flank a flower painting that is a bit larger than the others in the gallery.

Please click on this link from Galerie Birch (scroll down) to see a painting by Ding/Ting title Do you want to eat my apples from 1977.  I would LOVE to own that painting with the title card.

My Growing Great Wall

Here is a quick view of the progression of the Body Project. Last week we had studio visits in the village and I hastily pinned my growing collection on the wall.  I really like them pinned up and I plan to continue building it in this way.  I currently have 77 cards and plan to have at last 150 by the end of my time in China.  I have 250 cards so ideally I’ll have to order new cards while I’m here.  The collection is from various different venues and groups of people–Ikea, email submissions, a Tedx dinner, and a French gallery opening.  The cards have been submitted in four languages thus far.  The photo below is during the Imagine Gallery opening last week.  Two of the Bei Gao studios are across the street so we had our doors open as well.