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Posts Tagged ‘China’

I Am the Artwork: Ai Weiwei on Film

August 2, 2012 | by

In November 2010, ArtReview magazine published its annual Power 100, a list of the most powerful people in the art world. The highest-ranked living artist, coming in at number thirteen, was the Chinese artist and activist Ai Weiwei. Two months later, the Chinese government demolished Ai’s brand new, two-thousand-square-foot studio in Shanghai in one day—this despite the fact that officials had approved (and by some accounts invited) Ai’s plans for the studio, which took a year and almost a million dollars to build. Then, in April 2011, Chinese authorities took Ai into custody. Without announcing charges against him or when he would be released, they held him in detention for eighty-one days, during which time guards watched him constantly, even when he went to the bathroom or slept. He was released in June and, a few months later, charged with “economic crimes” and an accompanying bill of $2.4 million.

Last year, ArtReview ranked Ai Weiwei number one on its Power 100 list. Read More »

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Cathy Park Hong on ‘Engine Empire’

August 23, 2011 | by

The summer issue of The Paris Review includes a series of poems by Cathy Park Hong. Hong has published two books of poetry, Translating Mo’um (2002) and Dance Dance Revolution (2007). She teaches at Sarah Lawrence College.

The poems published in this issue come from a longer work, entitled “Fort Ballads.” How does it fit into your forthcoming book, Engine Empire?

“Fort Ballads” is part of the first section in Engine Empire. The poems in the collection range from a trilogy, ranging from Western ballads to love poems set in present-day industrial China to poems set in a virtual future. “Fort Ballads” follows a band of outlaw fortune-seekers who travel to a California boomtown during the 1800s. The boomtown isn’t real; it’s full of strange, violent, sometimes surreal happenings. It’s my own way of mythologizing California, which is where I’m from. The main character is “Our Jim,” who’s half Comanche Indian. In creating him, I was thinking of the typical iconic Western guys, like Billy the Kid, but his story is also reminiscent of Huck Finn and maybe a little of Faulkner’s Joe Christmas. He’s an orphan, a cipher, a boy trapped between identities, both innocent and vengeful. But the section isn’t all narrative—there are sound poems in there as well, where I let myself wallow in kitschy Western vernacular. Read More »

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Li Bing Bing at High Tea

July 20, 2011 | by

Li Bing Bing as Nina/Lily in Snow Flower and the Secret Fan.

Just as high tea was being served at Gordon Ramsay’s Maze restaurant in midtown’s London Hotel last Wednesday, Li Bing Bing was accosted by a group of young fans, cameras in hand. Li, thirty-eight, one of the China’s most famous actresses, was perfectly coiffed, and dressed in skinny black pants, a butterfly-print top and a crisp white blazer with a mandarin collar. Her face gave way to an ever-so-slight sulk as the fans excitedly chatted in their native Mandarin and gathered around. But then the petite actress swept her hand through her hair, rose from her seat and smiled pleasantly for the photo.

Li had arrived in town earlier in the week to promote her latest film, Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, accompanied by director Wayne Wang, author Lisa See, and producer Florence Sloan. (The latter’s counterpart, producer Wendi Deng Murdoch and wife of Newscorp’s Rupert, was conspicuously absent.) The movie is loosely based on See’s novel, which is set in a remote, nineteenth-century Chinese village and follows the difficult, foot-bound lives of Lily and Snow Flower. The women have been laotong (“same old”)—or, as one might say, BFFs—since meeting at age seven and, when apart, communicate the tales of their lives through written messages using their own made-up language. For those who may have been excited by the trailer, ahem, there is no lesbian sex, nuanced or not. Wang also took substantial artistic license, reimagining the story through a split in time and personality—the modern-day, bustling, city lives of businesswoman Nina (Lily) and writer Sophia (Snow Flower).

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It Never Gets Old

June 6, 2011 | by

Photograph by Alex Livesey.

When an athlete grows old, when she slips and starts making errors, you say that her body betrays her. What you mean is that she betrays you. A superhuman should not age. So you punish her with your attention, with your nostalgia and condescension, and also with your neglect. You turn your gaze to the young.

For the first two weeks of this year’s French Open, that’s what happened. Sure, younger players had earned the spotlight. Novak Djokovic was in the middle of one of the longest win streaks in the history of tennis. If he made the French Open final, he would become number one. For his part, Rafa Nadal was looking to equal Björn Borg’s record of six French Open titles. No one expected much of Roger Federer. Even Anna Wintour, who sat in Federer’s box in Paris, had more or less conceded Djokovic’s dominance, featuring the Serb in tiny swimming briefs in the pages of Vogue, where once Roger had been king. Federer is twenty-nine years old.

On the women’s side, the favorite was a beautiful blonde Dane, Caroline Wozniacki, twenty years old. She had never won a major, but never mind. The defending champion, Francesca Schiavone, who has hollow cheeks and a habit of kissing the dirt, wasn’t given a chance. Some thought her win last year—she had been seeded seventeenth—was a fluke, and besides she is ancient, nearly thirty-one. But Wozniacki lost in the third round, and when the finals arrived Schiavone was there again, and this time playing the twenty-nine-year-old Li Na, best known for being Asian and having a tattoo.

“With a combined age of sixty years seventy-nine days, Li and Schiavone make up the oldest French Open final pairing since 1986,” said The New York Times. Li and Schiavone were pressed to explain their advanced ages. “Is like the wine,” Schiavone said. “Stay in the bottle more is much, much better.”

“I’m not old,” Li Na insisted. “Why do you think I’m old?”

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Competition

February 4, 2011 | by

TK

2004 © Wang Qingsong, Courtesy the artist.

Here, Chinese painter-turned-photographer Wang Qingsong draws from his memories of the Cultural Revolution, when the walls of China’s cities were covered with handmade posters pasted up by rival Red Guard factions. He filled the walls of a rented Beijing movie sound stage with more than six hundred mock advertising posters that he drew by hand, mimicking corporate logos. If you look closely at the photograph, you can spot him, megaphone in hand.

From the exhibition “When Worlds Collide,” on view at the International Center of Photography, New York, through May 8, 2011. Click to enlarge.

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