» Archive for 27 June 2010

Fear and the “Post 90s”

27 June 2010

ah!

No, this is not a Chinese equivalent to Twilight. This is Komi, an “Uber-Internet Beauty” 网络超强美女. In case you weren’t aware, big, round eyes, with their giant irises and enormous pupils glinting with anime shine, white skin, pointy almond chin, and pursed rosebud lips are ke’ai, cute. They are cute that has crossed to the other side. Thus,  the “Post 90s” generation strikes fear in me. And Komi’s photos caught my eye in the sidebar of some Chinese web portal, a bizarre consequence of the social/technology machine driving self-photography. What were the many stages of production that created this photo, what contributes to the collective failure in recognizing the disturbing nature of this image? (more…)

the Mansudae Art Museum

1 June 2010

towerThe North Korean pavilion at the Shanghai World’s Fair was inspiring, but last week I discovered the Mansudae Art Museum in 798 just across from Pace Beijing. The current signage in 798 can’t be missed, and although a stop in to this spacious museum might cause most visitors to smirk at its “kitschy” socialist realist oils and statues with chiseled, idealized proletariat features, there were some artistic treasures within after all. The museum itself seems to be privately funded by one of the DPRK’s most enterprising cultural firms, the Mansudae Art Studio, whose “overseas projects” division is responsible for other monumental statues across Africa, including the controversial Senegalese “African Renaissance.” Look for the Mansudae Museum underneath the book-bearing youth astride a winged horse and crowning an enormous faux-brick pedestal.

Deferring comment on the works themselves, and not knowing enough about the context in which they arrived in China’s most prominent arts district, I’d rather tell you about my joyous discovery of other art within––DPRK stamps! While “Korean jewel painting” and the realist ink and wash landscapes depicting craggy mountains might not appeal to Western tastes, I don’t know who could resist the wonderfully rendered ratus norvegicous found on the pleasingly designed “Rodents” sheet of stamps.

Amidst political themes fawning on the P.R.C. (a plethora of stamps depict Mao Zedong, Zhou Enlai, and more recent visits by the “dear Leader” to China), there was also a fascinating visual interpretation of the “History of the Earth” in which the planet swells like a bubble, and a equally reality-bending 1997 skyline view of Hong Kong, surely a commemoration of her return to Chinese rule. Mushrooms and alpine life sit high on the list of muses for DPRK philatelic society artists, and in the small books for sale inside the museum (13-31RMB), you can find their issue date in both the Western calendar, and in the Juche year (0 = 1912, the year of Kim Il-sung’s birth).

rodents

history

hk

mushrooms

mushroom stamps

juche year 91

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