A Giant Rubber Duck In Beijing

Rubber duck in Beijing by Chris Clayman 1
“Kitsch causes two tears to flow in quick succession. The first tear says: How nice to see children running on the grass! The second tear says: How nice to be moved, together with all mankind, by children running on the grass!” – Milan Kundera, The Unbearable Lightness of Being ~ "It's not just children who like it. The core value of the rubber duck is to bring back childlike innocence to all of us, especially weary adults." – Zeng Hui, head of the Beijing Design Week Organizing Committee

Tino Sehgal At UCCA Is The Can’t-Miss Art Exhibition Of The Year

Tino Sehgal at UCCA
Tino Sehgal is a pretty big deal. And undoubtedly, 2013 has been his best year yet. In June, he was awarded the Golden Lion at the Venice Biennale – for an artist, this is comparable to an Oscar or an Olympic gold medal. Earlier in the spring, he was one of four artists shortlisted for Tate Britain’s prestigious Turner Prize. At 37 years old, he's amassed an impressive resume of institutions where he's exhibited, including a solo show in New York’s Guggenheim Museum in which the main spiral of the building's interior was emptied out for one of his tightly choreographed “constructed situations.”

Dispatches From Xinjiang: Chen Zhifeng, Billionaire, Patron of the Arts

Chen Zhifeng featured image
Chen Zhifeng is a “self-made” billionaire, founder of the Western Regions Photography Society, and a major force in Xinjiang’s art scene. He is part of a newly minted cohort of Xinjiang capitalists: the Xinjiang 8 (or 9), who have taken advantage of Chinese-Central Asian market development and the post-Reform oil and gas economy. His Wild Horses Corporation brings in an annual income of $700 million selling Chinese-made women’s underwear and TVs in Russia and Kazakhstan. Yet, unlike some other Xinjiang elites, Chen has reinvested his wealth in Xinjiang.

“Film Is The Most Dangerous By Far”: An Interview With “Cancelled” Beijing Independent Film Festival Artistic Director Dong Bingfeng

Dong Bingfeng
After a handful of English-language publications declared that authorities had "shut down" the Beijing Independent Film Festival (BIFF), many people likely dusted their hands of the matter, thinking censorship had once again triumphed over artistic expression. But as James Hsu discovered more than a week after the festival’s supposed cancellation, BIFF held a successful, albeit quiet, closing ceremony following a full program of screenings and panels. So what happened? A few days after the closing, I met with artistic director Dong Bingfeng to ask him about that and other issues on censorship, film in China, and independent festivals in the future.

The Creamcast, Ep.11: Therese Mendez Of Boulder, Colorado On Living The Single Life In Beijing, And Dirt

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Therese Mendez (Amy's roommate!) speaks to John Artman and Amy Daml about teaching young -- very young -- children in China, getting peed on, biking under the influence (BUI), and getting mugged. She also talks about her culture shock after arriving from Boulder, Colorado in 2009 -- her first time out of the country -- and takes us inside a women's locker room in Beijing. The shower orgasm story is at the 27:30 mark.

Dispatches From Xinjiang: Gendered Futures, “Mother Tongue,” And Berna The Uyghur City Girl

Berna pt 2
Last week I wrote about the way endearing child stars such as the seven-year-old Berna are being mobilized as a method for securing the future of Uyghur ways of knowing and speaking. Yet Uyghur “mother tongue fever” has a long legacy. The famous Uyghur poem Ana Til, or “Mother Tongue,” was composed by the poet Haji Qutluq Shewqi in the mid-19th century when a love of Uyghur was directed in opposition to the dominance of Persian and Arabic in Uyghur education. While the vectors of linguistic force have found new centers of gravity in the past few decades...

Dispatches From Xinjiang: Uyghur Memories And Berna, A 7-Year-Old Pop Star From Ürümchi (Part 1)

Uyghur Memories And Berna, A 7-Year-Old Pop Star From Ürümchi
As has been well documented in discussions of the cultural situation in Xinjiang, many minority people in Xinjiang feel the future of their language and culture is insecure. Efforts to replace Uyghur-medium education begun in 2004 have intensified as the capillary spread of Chinese capitalism embeds its network and ideology deeper and deeper into southern Xinjiang.

Chug-Off For Charity Recap: Congratulations And Thanks

Chug-Off for Charity champions featured image
A big thank you to everyone who attended Chug-Off for Charity at Great Leap Brewing on Saturday. We raised 5,000 RMB for Magic Hospital, which will continue its excellent work providing happiness to sick, orphaned, and neglected children in Beijing. The tournament featured 16 teams, but unfortunately we could only have one winner. Congratulations to Go on the Pikies, consisting of Colin (a Dubliner visiting from London) and Tiggi (from Leeds, the manager of Paddy O’Shea’s).

The Creamcast, Ep.10: Lesley Sheppard Of Magic Hospital On Her Organization And Chug-Off For Charity

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The beneficiary of tomorrow's Chug-Off for Charity at the new Great Leap Brewing is Magic Hospital, a 10-year-old organization based in Beijing that organizes activities to cheer up sick, orphaned, abused, and generally neglected children. They're a wonderful foundation, and to tell you more about it, here's Lesley Sheppard, Magic Hospital's volunteer communications director.

Dispatches From Xinjiang: Aspirational Desire, Migrant Masculinity And “Dao Lang”

Dao Lang pt 2 - Lover
Luo Lin’s voice and melodies are extremely catchy. In a true sense of the term, he catalyzes -- that is, he channels energy toward, and thereby accelerates -- an aspirational ethos for many migrant workers in Northwest China. Last week I wrote about those who resist his catalytic charge by jealously guarding their indigenous cultural heritage. Yet, clearly, critiquing Luo Lin’s “Dao Lang” persona does not deny the very real force of his voice. He is an immensely talented performer; he has proved himself to be very adept at tuning in to desires particular to a Chinese rendering of an alien environment inhabited by displaced people.

The Creamcast, Ep.09: Badr Benjelloun Of Cuju And Beijing Daze

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Badr Benjelloun -- Beijing Daze curator, IT captain at True Run media, ESL forum operator, former Tangshan teacher, capoeira practitioner, guy who does business on the side, cook, and owner of the best rum bar / Moroccon eatery in Beijing, Cu Ju -- is... um... sorry, we lost our train of thought. Badr does a lot around Beijing. We're very happy he's here.

Dispatches From Xinjiang: Cultural Appropriation And The Singer Luo Lin, a.k.a. “Dao Lang”

Dao Lang, ie Luo Lin
I first heard of “Dao Lang” from an economics professor on the way to a fancy dinner at a four-star hotel on the northwest corner of the People’s Square in downtown Urumqi. We had been discussing taste in cars as we slowly careened across three lanes of traffic and walkers. The professor said she found the American Hummer to be the best car, and then turning, as though catalyzed by the brawn and force of a combination of army machine and Michigan muscle, she asked if I had ever heard of Dao Lang. She said he was the best Xinjiang singer.

Dispatches From Xinjiang: The Affect Of Ethnic Friendship And The Music Video “Harmonious Xinjiang”

Harmonious Xinjiang 3
A smart person once told me that the feeling she gets when certain people enter the room is the same feeling she gets when she encounters the dank scent of mildew on damp, bath towels. It’s a livable smell, that palpable acrid taste in the air, but for her it also brings with it a constant grating and discomfort. Even worse, people who project this feeling on others with condescending smiles and cheerful helping hands are often “true believers” with the very best of intentions. They move and talk as though under an ideological spell. Their hope is that when they enter the atmosphere of a situation the positive vibes, the affect, or “wisdom of the body,” they emit will radiate like an emotional contagion.

Introducing: The Beijing Cream Chug-Off For Charity, August 24

Beijing Cream Chug-Off for Charity logo featured image
Think you're the fastest beer-chugger in Beijing? Prove it. Sign up for the inaugural Beijing Cream Chug-off for Charity on Saturday, August 24 at 2 pm at the new Great Leap Brewing (between Sun City and Chunxiu Lu). All proceeds will go to Magic Hospital, a local charity that "strives to help in the healing of sick, abused, neglected and orphaned children by restoring an element of fun in their day." It's absolutely a good cause, which we'll tell you more about in the coming days. Great Leap is very generously donating all the beer that will be used at the event.

Oi! Kim Jong Un! – How Not to Do Journalism in North Korea

John Sparks in North Korea
"Mr. Kim Jong Un! Channel 4 News, UK!” yelled the journalist at the back of Kim Jong Un’s head. The Great Marshall stopped. He slowly turned and smiled, his visage a million shining suns. The room, which had been full of raucous cheers, came to a hush. In perfect English he replied, “Yes? How may I help you?” Just kidding. That last part didn’t happen.

Three Shots With… Vicky Mohieddeen, Culture And Film Buff

Three Shots with Vicky Mohieddeen
Welcome to Three Shots with Beijing Cream, where local personalities may or may not get drunk on camera, depending on their alcohol tolerance. Produced and directed by Gabriel Clermont and Anthony Tao. Vicky Mohieddeen arrived in China halfway by accident with no long-term plans, but in an opportunity-rich place like Beijing, it didn't take long for her to find a calling. Or several, as it were.