C4, Eps.134-135: Shaolin Temple Travel Diary

C4 Stuart Wiggin at Shaolin Temple viral featured image
With his co-host in England for the month, the news comedy show C4’s Stuart Wiggin took a trip to the Shaolin Temple and returned with a travel diary that has gone viral in China. Why? There's an interesting story here...

The Poetry Of Foxconn Worker Xu Lizhi Before His Suicide

Xu Lizhi Foxconn suicide
A week and a half ago, the China blog of the libertarian communism website libcom.org -- Nao Blog -- published translations of the poetry of Foxconn worker Xu Lizhi, who committed suicide on September 30. As Nao notes, "By translating these poems, we aim to memorialize Xu, share some of his excellent literary work, and spread awareness that the harsh conditions, struggles and aspirations of Chinese migrant workers (including but not limited to Foxconn) have not diminished."

Magical Realism? The Avant-Garde Artist He Ling

He Ling magical realism 1
While most painters create their art using pen or brush, the avant-garde artist He Ling (@何玲Heling) uses medical syringes to bring his wild imaginings to life. At his recent exhibition in Songzhuang Art District, the young artist displayed a series of mutant birds and beasts he created by injecting acrylic paints and dyes made from Chinese herbs into his canvas. The process resembles traditional embroidery in its delicacy.

Hutongs And Palaces: Tian Li’s Beijing In Oil And Wood Block

Tian Li painting of Beijing 皇城系列(二(2)80x80cm
It’s hard to find anyone without an opinion about this city, be it a fear of pollution, heavy traffic or some other widely reported negative attribute. But Beijing isn’t all bad. Tasty snacks, magnificent architecture and a comparatively cosmopolitan environment are among the city’s selling points, which is what artist Tian Li attempts to capture in his work.

The Past As Told By Posters

Wang Yuqing  - the past as told by posters
Most people might not give Chinese posters a second thought, but Wang Yuqing has dedicated himself to collecting and studying them as historical records. Often dismissed as propaganda, the posters reveal much about the social culture, economy and politics of modern Chinese history.

Muralist Seeks To Recapture Lost Cultural Roots Of Tang Dynasty

Tang mural 1
Artists and writers seeking the pinnacle of Chinese civilization often turn to the Tang Dynasty, an era of openness and innovation credited with fostering some of the finest art and poetry in the history of Han civilization. It’s no surprise that such an amazing era would provide similar inspiration to Xu Songbo, a professor at the Tianjin Academy of Fine Arts, who attempts to capture the Tang spirit in his breathtaking oil compositions. They are collected in Tang Feng, his exhibition open until this Thursday at New Millennium Gallery in 798 Art District.

Dispatches From Xinjiang: Baseball In Xinjiang And The Film “Diamond In The Dunes”

Baseball in Xinjiang - Diamond in the Dust
The new documentary film Diamond in the Dunes, directed by Christopher Rufo, tells the coming-of-age story of a Uyghur man named Parhat as he finds his way through college. It shows us how he and his Uyghur and Han classmates at Xinjiang University develop a passion for a game, for abilities and skills that don’t rely on ethnicity or Chinese business connections. It shows us how the citywide riots of 2009 shaped their life-paths and how they found ways to move forward despite the difficulties of their circumstances.

Sindicator, Ep.04: Chai-Na, Development By Destruction

Sindicator - Chai-na
Chairman Mao once said, "Without destruction there is not construction. The destruction is the criticism, the revolution. The destruction comes first, it of course brings the construction.” In recent years this quote has been taken literally, and the character 拆 (chāi), which means to "tear down," adorns the entrances of many-a-doomed domiciles. The phenomenon has evolved so that the Chinese have nicknamed their country 拆那 (chāinà - get it?), referring to the daily razings that make way for growth.

Dispatches From Xinjiang: Uyghur Rock Star Perhat On The Voice Of China

Uyghur Rock Star Perhat Voice of China
It's been two weeks since the Uyghur rock star Perhat Khaliq took on The Voice of China, and the Uyghur Internet is still buzzing about the way he delivered his songs of loss and longing to a national audience. Perhat surprised everyone with the painful tension in his voice. Strumming an acoustic guitar, he started his song in a low, almost spoken-word register that slowly evolved into a full roar.

Dispatches From Xinjiang: Celebrating Roza In A Time Of Fear

Xinjiang - Celebrating Eid in a Time of Fear 2
On Friday, the first of August, we woke up to the sound of an explosion in the alley. It was a deep resonate boom: not a firecracker, not a gunshot. It was a window-rattling explosion. We knew immediately what it meant: mangled bodies, screaming women, terrified children, a suicide bomber. But when I leaned out the window, I saw a young man with a fire extinguisher putting out a few small fires next to a mangled three-wheel cart.

Dispatches From Xinjiang: The Rise Of Buddhism In The Far West

Buddha Xinjiang 2
The giant 41-meter Buddha faces due west. It seems to embrace the construction on the other side of Bright Red Mountain on the northeast periphery of Ürümchi. Behind him, the constant ring of hammers and the roar of Bingtuan Construction Engineering Company trucks rise from the still-unfinished wing of the new Hilton hotel and the alien-looking international expo center. Every few minutes the low industrial roar is punctuated by the “dong” of a giant bell. Chants of A-mi-tuo-fo are carried intermittently on the breeze.

Dispatches From Xinjiang: “Encounter On The Silk Road” At The Xinjiang Art Biennale

Encounter on the Silk Road 10
A lot of people turned out for the final day of the Xinjiang Art Biennale on July 20 at the International Expo Center. The massive complex, situated next to a giant Buddha and Hilton Hotel in the city's northeast, echoed with the sounds of an original score by Philip Glass called “Encounter on the Silk Road.” Indeed, exhibition was heavy on spectacle. Giant video screens, paintings, and sculptures drew the largely Han crowd into massive spaces lit by natural light. Smartphone cameras were often raised at the mesmerizing objects, which called the viewer to contemplate Xinjiang as “a land of many colors.”

Flash Fiction: “If Not For The Melon”

If Not for the Melon
Thank you to all who attended Flash Fiction for Charity on July 13 at Great Leap Brewing. We collected 2,450 RMB for Educating Girls of Rural China. We'll be posting our five readers' entries this week, culminating in a podcast of the full event on Friday. To start, here's Daniel Tam-Claiborne, author of the novel What Never Leaves, with his short story "If Not for the Melon."

Dispatches From Xinjiang: The Story Of The Production And Construction Corps

Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps 1
A rifle and sword tied with a red flag over a meter of Gobi sand welcomes visitors to the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps Museum in the city of Shihezi, 136 kilometers northwest of Ürümchi. This museum, filled with patched and dented artifacts and hundreds of large-scale historical photos, is the premier monument to the Han experience of the recent past in Xinjiang. It shows us the narrative of experience necessary to understand the history of the people who self-identify as “constructors” (jianshezhe) of Xinjiang.