» Archive for 27 July 2009
The feelings of the Chinese have been hurt once again, but this time, they demand an apology.
Five days ago three Chinese filmmakers withdrew their entries into the Melbourne International Film Festival, most prominently was Jia Zhangke (the World, Platform), Tang Xiaobai (aka Emily Tang), and Zhao Liang (a rising documentarian). The film behind the hurt feelings and the withdraws is “Ten Conditions of Love,” by Melbourne film-maker Jeff Daniels, it is a documentary, filmed over seven years, that tells of Rebiya Kadeer’s relationship with her activist husband Sidik Rouzi and the impact her campaigning had on her 11 children. Rebiya Kadeer is a Uigyher activist and advocate who has been demonized by Chinese media as the driving force behind the recent riots in Xinjiang. For readers who can’t make out the Chinese animosity towards her, we could compare her role in China to that of Osama bin Laden in the US.
Many Jia Zhangke fans overseas were shocked and dissapointed that he would make such a polical decision, but according to this writer’s gossip channels, the film-making community in Beijing seems overwhelmingly convinced that the decision was made from coercion. Considering Jia Zhangke is filming his first attempt at a blockbuster hit, a kung fu film, can we really doubt the motivation behind his withdraw from the MIFF? The nationalist fervor surrounding the issue seems to guarantee his investors would demand his withdraw.
Demonstrating the harmonious feelings of all Chinese, the first paragraph of the China Daily report reads as follows: “Chinese directors Jia Zhangke and Tang Xiaobai say they have quit the biggest film festival in Australia because of personal beliefs - - not because of any pressure from the Chinese government.” (Source China Daily) Tang Xiaobai was quoted elsewhere saying that she was practicing “self-restraint” by pulling out from MIFF; Zhao Liang, whose entry was a documentary film on petitioners who come to Beijing to voice their grievances to the deaf ears of central government, has stayed relatively silent on the issue. His film Petition, already touches on sensitive issue in Beijing, perhaps its easy to understand why he remains silent.
Everyone is feeling the pressure these days: according to news sources, director of MIFF Richard Moore received a phone call from the Melbourne-based Chinese consulate last week.
“She told me that she was ringing to urge me to withdraw the particular film (more…)
We all remember “Running Teacher Fan,” the poor sap who, after abandoning his students in the classroom during the Sichuan earthquake, proceeded to be butchered by Chinese media as the anti-hero. “My sense of self-preservation is too strong,” he was quoted as saying.
Later, Ai Weiwei defended him in his legendary blog, commending his honesty and bravery in admitting his un-noble actions in a time of hero fetishizing, especially in comparison to the Sichuan Ministry of Education, which still won’t face up to the sub-standard construction on schools that caused their collapse.
As if taking Ai’s lead, Zhu Qi, artistic director for the upcoming “798 Biennale” will include Fan Meizhong, the notorious “Running Teacher Fan” in the biennale as an artist. Publicity stunts, or significant attempt to bring art in 798 to a new social dimension? We will have to wait until August 15th to find out.
In a post on the artnow.com.cn site , Zhu Qi writes: “I’m not saying that I agree with Running Teacher Fan’s sense of values, however, the fact that he can honestly voice his opinion is worthy of appreciation.”
And he’s not the only “vocal” participant, in an exhibition titled “The Soulful Society VS The Net Spirit” (社会魂vs网络魄）infamous Chongqing “rustynail” dweller（钉子户） Wu Ping, the woman who refused to vacate her home (pictured at left) will also be participating, as well as some disabled, and there’s even a program that trains unemployed workers to be artists, the “Laid off Art Rehabilitation Program.” Hm. How does one qualify?
The whole thing will be going off in the 706 space within the 798 complex, one of the main venues of the Biennale. Dates are August 15 to September 12, 2009. Although a little unclear on the details, or what, exactly, they will be making “art” of, Zhu Qi seems unhindered by the fact that these folks have probably never considered themselves artists before they received a call from his assistant.
Zhu Qi gives two reasons for his decision in his post: the first, Chinese contemporary art should take its lead from reality; the second, a biennale shouldn’t necessarily be a collection of highlights, but also a platform for which to discuss issues.
The Gao Brothers were recently in Moscow for the second annual awards ceremony of the Kandinsky Prize, their well received performance was part of the “Art and Power” themed event.
For their performance, a golden “Miss Mao,” their giant fiberglass bust of Mao’s head with naked breasts, sat in the middle of the stage. The brothers came on stage in similar masks and imitating politicians, waving, etc., before they embraced in a hug, and then taking a hammer to Miss Mao’s head. Inside was a red bust of Lenin, which was bust open to reveal a black skull.
The Gaos were in good company, Dinos Chapman presented the award, and screened a recent video work on the death of famous artists, and Marina Abramovic also gave a performance. The awards ceremony itself was a bit of a scandal, with the award going to Moscow artist Alexey Belyaev-Gintovt, who has been called “ultra-nationalistic” and “neo-Stalinist.” Leftist internationalists protested outside …
ART iT was a promising Japanese-English art print magazine with contemporary art coverage from primarily Japan, Asia and the rest of the world. Last month it made the migration to an online format, sad for subscribers and paperphiles, but a triumph for trees and blog readers around the globe.
The online magazine and communities is just starting out, but features “official bloggers” from around Asia, myself included. To celebrate and support this new platform, and try to enrich the Asian art community, I’ll be posting short exhibition profiles and photos on the site, please check it out at the link below.
The site features a few other bloggers from China, such as curator Ou Ning. Those interested in on-the-ground Japanese artists couldn’t find a better site, there are tons of blogs from Japan, and local arts news. The “automatic translation” tool is not as bad as one would expect, either.