The project involves a 3 month arts residency [Aug-Oct 07] spent with Red Gate Gallery in Beijing, China exploring and researching the Chinese relationship with singing insects such as orthoptera [grasshoppers, crickets and katydids] and homoptera [cicadas].
All comments welcome at info[at]ciclover[dot]com


A few final thoughts

This is going to be my last post on this blog. Thanks to everyone who has made my residency here possible, in particular Brian Wallace, Red Gate’s director. Thanks Brian, it has been a great experience.

China is changing so much and everyone is talking about China. In the West we tend to talk about China from a superior point of view in an attempt to rationalize what most see as a threat. I feel privileged to have spent this time here, seeing things from a slightly different angle but always, of course, as an outsider. The experience highlights how important it is to differentiate between official representatives of nations [governments] and the people themselves.


Cathy and Garry made a great find the other day. Through serendipity they discovered an artists’ 'village’ of 2000 out to the east of Beijing [Bei Gao and Caochangdi are to the north east]. There was also a huge exhibition space called Song Zhuang Art Centre. They found the work of one artist Wang Jinsong here. His work is featured on one of the t-shirts that Cathy photographed for her exhibition. One of his works depicts 100 photographs of the Chinese character for ‘demolition [of a building]’ [see image] that is sprayed on buildings about to be demolished. With so much demolition taking place in Beijing, this character has a sense of great foreboding for an area. I know Cathy is going to talk more about their visit so check her blog on this site for more info [Cathy Busby].

Oh and I see Frieze’s Jorg Heiser has been here and done a recent city report on China.


The Dalai Lama

There has been a bit of hullabaloo recently that I have not mentioned. The Chinese Government was furious about the US giving the Dalai Lama a congressional medal. Here in Beijing the English tv channel CCTV9 reported the event as one-sidedly as any of the Chinese channels. Here are a few notes taken from the report:

– For the Chinese Government, the Dalai Lama represents a ‘political issue’ not a spiritual or cultural one or one about human rights.
– The issue is part of internal affairs and other nations are advised not to meddle.
– The Dalai Lama wants to retain feudalism in Tibet, whereas under China’s rule Tibet now sees rapid development.
– The new railway has had a profound impact that is not harming the environment.
– Extensive rights of autonomy are granted to Tibet. The Dalai Lama does not admit this.
– He is good at persuading Westerners but he cannot ‘fool’ the Chinese or Tibetans.
– The Dalai Lama is requested to abandon his ‘political’ stand.

There is of course no footage of the Dalai Lama so from this report no one can judge for themselves.

17th Communist Party Congress

The 17th Communist Party congress also took place last week. Although it rather seemed like another load of propaganda [‘Socialism with Chinese characteristics’ was a phrase heard repeatedly], the congress was reported in detail with various grass roots stories that made a lot of sense. There seems to be a real concern for equality according to the Marxist tradition. There were several reports from the countryside about party members [commonly village elders] implementing party policy at every level – ie making sure everyone in poor villages in particular, had enough food, medical assistance, jobs, education etc. In these stories the village elders happened to be incredibly committed women.

I also noted that most members of the new Communist Party of China [CPC} central committee members were ethnic Han, with backgrounds in engineering. All were men – and interestingly gender is included in the descriptive blurb about each member. They were all of a vintage that meant they joined the party around the mid 60s, just before the Cultural Revolution. I wonder what parts they played during that period.

I must say from an outsider’s point of view people on the street display a general sense of contentment. There is little if no aggression. People seem gentle with each other as well and there being a general feeling of support and understanding. While the Chinese language can sound very sharp and gutteral at times, arguments are rarely occurring. When I conduct the interviews in the park, people come up to each other and peer over shoulders [seriously invading each others’ space we Westerners would call it] and contribute comments. No one minds and in fact many seem grateful for the input and discussions often follow. At first I thought people knew each other but this is not the case. Nobody actually knows each other but all are respectful and interested.