Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Dashanzi Art District

Today Gene, his language partner Jenny, and I went to check out Beijing's art district, Dashanzi. It took a while to get there by bus, but I think it was worth every minute of transport. From what I've heard, Dashanzi used to be a warehouse district, and it's been taken over by artists. People have entire buildings as their studios. We checked out as much as we could, but I definitely want to go back on a regular basis.


Even outside of the studios, there was so much to look at. You have to walk down tiny streets and alleyways to get to the buildings, and there's something to find everywhere you turn as a result. I found a lomo gallery down one of the alleys! That was really exciting for me since I just started to get interested in those cameras and the subculture using them before I came to China.

jenny and gene

I was really happy to see how much space these artists got for their work. I think that most people from the states would agree that their work is cutting edge if they could see it. The fact that they're doing the work in China, I think, makes it that much more amazing. They have more to fight through to create their art.

exhibit in beijing contemporary art gallery (dashanzi)

One installation called "Offspring of China" had casts of people hanging from all over the ceiling. We saw it from outside and ran up to the gallery right away. The casts were suspended by thick rope that was tied around various limbs. Some were hanging high, far from the ground, but others were hanging so low that you could look them in the eye upside down.

We also went to the studio of Sui Jianguo. Before going in to see Sui's installation, we had to remove our shoes and valuables and put them in a bag. I wasn't reading the sign on the wall carefully, but I saw something about a pool. I was confused, but shuffled through the door before I had a chance to ask what we were going in to. We climbed stairs, and found ourselves on a platform overlooking a huge pit of black foam.

exhibit in dashanzi

The piece was aptly titled "My Nightmare." It was so difficult to walk through, and we kept getting stuck. I'm not sure how much of the intended effect was achieved, however. Everyone around us was throwing the foam, so we, of course, joined in. And furthermore, we fell into the pit backwards. And even further(!) we took video of it. If anyone can suggest a video hosting site that isn't blocked by the China block on the internet, I'll put it up here. It would be worth it to watch, I think. We got completely swallowed by the foam.

I hope to go back there alot. There was alot that I didn't see, and I'm sure it's constantly changing there. I bet it's gorgeous in the winter, too, with all of those buildings covered in snow. Ohh, I can't wait.


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