Vancouver Special is hosting a screen & meet
for the newly released documentary on west coast
modern architecture, Coast Modern, that I have a few photos in July 7th at Vancity Theatre, so get your tickets.
And I have a photo in the second edition of the book,
THIS IS EAST VAN
and show at Interurban Gallery launching July 7th
as well. With the after party at Fortune Sound Club.
So buy the book because it's for a good cause.
Looks like I'm going to have a busy night.
I hope to see you all there!
• • • • • • • • • • •
I read this article today on Newsweek's The Daily Beast that controversial artist Ai Weiwei wrote about his Beijing. I spent some time in Beijing in 2009 and had a tough time adjusting.
For the most part I felt very uneasy and I spent my time with expats who had the income to afford a westernized lifestyle. It's only now that I can appreciate my time there and understand what living in Beijing actually means for the Chinese people who have such a seemingly bleak future in a giant city that doesn't much care for individuality.
The City: Beijing
Ai Weiwei finds China’s capital is a prison where people go mad.
Beijing is two cities. One is of power and of money. People don’t care who their neighbors are; they don’t trust you. The other city is one of desperation. I see people on public buses, and I see their eyes, and I see they hold no hope. They can’t even imagine that they’ll be able to buy a house. They come from very poor villages where they’ve never seen electricity or toilet paper.
Every year millions come to Beijing to build its bridges, roads, and houses. Each year they build a Beijing equal to the size of the city in 1949. They are Beijing’s slaves. They squat in illegal structures, which Beijing destroys as it keeps expanding. Who owns houses? Those who belong to the government, the coal bosses, the heads of big enterprises. They come to Beijing to give gifts—and the restaurants and karaoke parlors and saunas are very rich as a result.
Beijing tells foreigners that they can understand the city, that we have the same sort of buildings: the Bird’s Nest, the CCTV tower. Officials who wear a suit and tie like you say we are the same and we can do business. But they deny us basic rights. You will see migrants’ schools closed. You will see hospitals where they give patients stitches—and when they find the patients don’t have any money, they pull the stitches out. It’s a city of violence.
click to continue reading the original article..
I watched this short documentary made by Banksy.
It thoroughly entertained me.
I appreciate those who question authority.
Banksy's 'incomplete guide to total anarchy' provides a greatest hits of wayward behaviour, sedition and sabotage.
An hour-long special made by Banksy charting the history of behaving badly in public,
from anarchists and activists to attention seeking eccentrics.
Filmmaker Alison Klayman was
a guest on the Colbert Report
on Monday discussing her documentary, Never Sorry, on controversial Chinese artist,
The first feature length doc on the iconic Chinese contemporary artist, Ai Weiwei. Coming 2011.
China sheds little light on detained activist
Barbara Demick, Los Angeles Times
April 26, 2011
Activists demonstrate during a protest to demand the release of detained prominent Chinese artist Ai Weiwei, in Hong Kong on April 24, 2011. Ai, a prominent artist and harsh critic of China's Communist Party leaders, who's been held since April 3, for unspecified "economic crimes", sparked worldwide condemnation.
Photograph by: Laurent Fievet, AFP/Getty Images
BEIJING — Was it the semi-nude photographs of himself he posted on the Internet? Was it the current exhibit at London's Tate Modern in which he uses millions of sunflower seeds to make a playful commentary about how the Communist Party treated the late Chairman Mao Zedong as the sun, his subjects as sunflowers fawning toward the light?
Or maybe the Twitter posting he'd make on the birthdays of the more than 5,000 children killed in the 2008 Sichuan earthquake, commemorations that served to remind the public that shoddy school construction led to so many deaths among the young? Or the blog in which he rambled on about modernism, animal rights, historic preservation and freedom of speech?
The list goes on. No doubt the artist Ai Weiwei did plenty to get in the face of the Chinese authorities. But why he was seized April 3 at Beijing International Airport as he passed through immigration to board a flight to Hong Kong is anybody's guess.
Chinese authorities have refused to say, and have failed to notify his family of his whereabouts or disclose the charges against him, despite a law requiring they do so within 24 hours.
Reports in the official press suggest they're still trying to come up with the charges to justify his seizure, with pornography, tax evasion, plagiarism, bigamy and failure to obtain travel permits all mentioned as possibilities.
"It is a mystery. They haven't notified us of anything. They shouldn't be doing this. He really is just an artist trying to express his individuality through his art," his mother, Gao Ying, said in a telephone interview.
But for Ai, art and activism came to be indistinguishable, putting him in frequent conflict with the powers that be.
The 53-year-old Ai defies easy definition. He is at once an architect, photographer, blogger and activist (he shuns the word "dissident") whose presence in Beijing is disproportionate to his (considerable) standing in the art world.
He has 70,000 followers on Twitter. He designed many of the studios in Caochangdi, a Beijing district he dubbed the East Village that is increasingly supplanting the more commercialized 798 warehouse district as the hub of the contemporary art scene. His own brick-walled studio functioned as an open house for intellectuals and activists, not to mention dozens of stray cats.
And the fact that he remained free served to embolden a younger generation of artists, writers and activists.
"We saw the freedom he enjoyed and figured if we imitate what he does, we can get away with expressing ourselves without getting in trouble," said Su Yutong, a 30-year-old activist now living in Berlin who worked with Ai on the Sichuan earthquake project.
Until recent months, Ai seemed to enjoy a Teflon-like immunity. His critical success abroad made him something of a national treasure. His work as an architectural consultant on the Bird's Nest stadium for the 2008 Beijing Olympics allowed him to teeter on the edge of the mainstream, although he later came to deplore the Olympics as a joyless monument to authoritarianism. His lineage also conferred privilege: His father, Ai Qing, despite years in exile during the Cultural Revolution, is revered today as one of China's most influential poets.
Ai's early works were more provocative than subversive. He painted Han dynasty vases with Coca-Cola logos and then broke them. His wife, Lu Qing, posed a la Marilyn Monroe, lifting a billowing skirt in front of Mao's portrait at Tiananmen Square. His activism was confined to relatively noncontroversial causes; he joined a group of animal rights activists in 2007 in a commando-style raid to rescue hundreds of cats headed to southern China, where cat meat is a delicacy.
But friends say the 2008 earthquake changed him. Ai, outraged over the arrests of bereaved parents protesting poor-quality school construction, felt obliged to throw his prestige to speak up for those without a voice.
"He got more serious about the content of his message after the earthquake," said Lee Ambrozy, a translator who this month published the first major English-language collection of Ai's writings, "Ai Weiwei's Blog: Writings, Interviews, and Digital Rants, 2006-2009." "With the Internet, he was reaching out not so much to the art worlds as an audience of disinterested and disaffected youth in the provinces."
Ai traveled to Sichuan in 2009 to attend the trial of an activist, Tan Zuoren, who was investigating the earthquake. Police burst into his hotel room at 3 a.m., and in a scuffle, he suffered bleeding on the brain, requiring lifesaving surgery four weeks later.
At that point, his art and activism merged.
At Munich's Haus der Kunst gallery, Ai displayed children's backpacks that spelled out in Chinese a quote from one of the mothers: "She lived happily on this Earth for seven years." He took a series of photographs of himself nude holding a toy horse that covered his genitals, a profane visual pun that played on the similarity between the words in Chinese "Party Central Committee" and "Cover the Center" and between "horse" and "mother" to suggest what he thought the party should, ahem, do.
His confrontations with authorities increased. In December, he was blocked at the Beijing airport from leaving the country, apparently out of fear that he might attend the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony for imprisoned writer Liu Xiaobo. In January, his studio in Shanghai was demolished.
"He always talked about how he expected to be arrested. I wonder if he didn't get tired waiting for this day to come, or wonder why it came so late," said Yang Licai, a 30-year-old designer who also worked with Ai on the earthquake project.
Ai is only one of dozens of activists and intellectuals to be arrested this year _ 59, by the count of Hong Kong-based human rights advocates _ but it is his case that is galvanizing international outrage. Demonstrations were staged April 17 in front of Chinese consulates and embassies across the world, and more than 1,000 protesters took to the streets of Hong Kong over the weekend to demand his release. The Tate has written in prominent black letters along its facade, "Release Ai Weiwei."
In Beijing, Ai's disappearance has cast a pall over the intellectual and cultural scene.
"Ai Weiwei really lit a spark for the younger generation," Su said. "The question now is whether because of his arrest that spark will be extinguished, or will it ignite a larger fire?"
© Copyright (c) Los Angeles Times
I'm looking forward to this documentary on artist Ai Weiwei. I saw his work exhibited while
I was in Beijing in 2009 and thought it was quite striking and bold for a communist country
that so obviously suppresses individuality and punishes "radical" behaviour. I think overall,
I was impressed with the art that I saw while I was there. There are some really exciting
things happening in the Chinese art community and I look forward to seeing Chinese artists
gain more notoriety.
The link below is a DesignBoom article about the demolition of Ai Weiwei's Shanghai studio.
It seems suspicious to me, especially because of the publicity around his new documentary..