Today marks the 25th anniversary of a turning point in modern Chinese history. In the run-up, around 20 key intellectuals and campaigners have been been detained, and security around Beijing heightened. And who knows how many warnings and threats have been issued to the family and friends of conscience-driven citizens across the country.
I’m back writing about Ai Weiwei, which isn’t what I particularly want to be doing, but as he seems to be the only Chinese artist known or cared about by a wider (Western) audience, here we are. This continued, and likely mutually beneficial, publicity for AWW has led to yet another documentary focusing on the trials and tribulations -- well, mostly the trials -- of him as he continues to work as an artist and professional dissident.
In 2020, almost one of every 10 people in the world will live in a Chinese city. Every year from now, an estimated 18 million Chinese will move to urban areas. That's like taking the population of Tokyo and adding it to the nation’s urban centers every year.
Matthew Niederhauser, who's putting finishing touches on a film called Kapital Creation that documents Beijing's development, recently uploaded a Vimeo featuring stunning aerial footage of this city. It's interesting how a simple rotation of perspective can completely change how we view a place -- and makes you realize the value of a window office atop a skyscraper (or a blimp). Watch the video; you're unlikely to find urban Beijing rendered more beautifully.
If China’s contemporary art market has one fatal fault, it is an obsession with cultivating and trading stars.
Artists born in the 1960s have become darlings of the market, producing some of the most expensive works traded at auction houses anywhere in the world.
But the next generation, born in the 1970s, has very different goals for creation and social recognition. Most use their skills to express an attitude or convey their artistic perspective to the public in plain language.
For his first solo exhibition on the Chinese mainland, Taiwanese artist Lee Mingwei is transforming his childhood memories into a personal performance at Ullens Center for Contemporary Art.
Sonic Blossom, the New York-based artist’s new participatory installation, brings together a team of classically trained opera singers to serenade unsuspecting visitors with Franz Schubert’s Lieder.
"Just like China, meats and fish are popular in Britain," begins this video called "A Taste of Britain," by CRI's Stuart Wiggin and Wu Tong. "But in order to make that meat and fish taste extra special, it has to be complemented by other ingredients. Britain only has one such ingredient." Can you guess what it is?
When a movie makes Steven Spielberg cry, you can be sure of one thing: it was written for the express purpose of making people cry. Please take a look at the trailer for Coming Home, the new film by Zhang Yimou starring his muse Gong Li and the distinguished Chen Daoming. Then consider how Sinosphere described one particular audience's reaction after a screening:
Watching the leaked surveillance video of two men walking with a sea of migrant workers in front of the train station in Ürümchi makes your blood turn cold. You want to look away but you can’t. You want to understand what was going through the heads of those men with their hats pulled low as they marched with the crowd – but you can’t. Only after the shock of the fireball and the smoke clears can you stop looking, but then you can’t un-see it. You can only play it over and over in your mind.
For those of you who have been watching, The Sound Stage has been working in a "series within a series" every other episode or so since last November, featuring bands from our trip to Wuhan. AV Okubo is the last of those bands.
It takes a bit of commitment to get to Three Shadows Photography Centre, which, outside Fifth Ring Road, counts as "far outside the city." And once you arrive, you very well could get lost on the train tracks before finally coming to the main building. But there's a simple answer to the question of whether it's worth journeying out there to check out the current exhibition: yes.
Although the use of hashish has been a part of the Uyghur pharmacopeia for centuries, drugs appear to have become a widespread problem for Uyghurs in the early 1990s. It was only then that young men in their twenties began dying of overdoses and needle-borne disease. As Ilham Tohti mentioned in 2011, in the intervening decades drugs, along with theft, pickpocketing, trafficking, and prostitution, “have gotten so bad that our entire ethnic group is suddenly perceived as a crime-prone community.” These are issues which Uyghurs discuss among themselves and feel embarrassed about when they are raised among outsiders.
After a decade abroad in the New York art scene, painter Zhao Gang is back to exhibit his last decade of creations.
The exhibition, which opened April 13 in Yonghe Community, has attracted art market observers, commentators, reporters, and general art lovers.
Titled “The Emperor and His…,” the paintings capture Zhao’s impressions about people around the world.
Brian Yang, who produced the 2012 documentary Linsanity (directed by Evan Jackson Leong), is in Beijing for the Beijing International Film Festival, which means now's a good time as any to remind everyone that you can watch his 88-minute doc for free on iQiyi (embedded above; just turn off your VPNs, China people).
A receptionist at the Wangfujing Branch of China’s Commercial Publishing House got the surprise of her life when an old man walked in with a several-thousand-page handwritten manuscript.
At 76-years-old, Che Hongcai had only one thing to say: “I’m finished.”
In his hands was the first ever Pashto-Chinese dictionary, a project commissioned, re-commissioned and eventually lost by the State Council.
DC rappers Pacman and Peso, who made waves in January after releasing a music video filmed in Pyongyang, North Korea (a trip that their friend and colleague, Ramsey Aburdene, documented for this site), are back with another video, this one set in Beijing. There's a lot to love about this, including:
The world is slowly discovering that the Chinese music landscape is not limited to folk tunes and revolutionary ballads. As China’s indie rock, blues and trip-hop artists head abroad, avoiding the “Made in China” label has become a major concern.