4 army artists

Saturday, July 02, 2005
Visit a metal workshop and a new artist compound in the middle of some farmland across the main road with Barbara and Li Gang. Continue to the timezone8 bookstore at 798 where you find a good selection of Chinese and western art books. Tea and tuna sandwich at At Café before heading for the Art Supply stores by the Central Art Academy. Buy some red paper, ink, brushes and pastels.

Opening at Pickled Art Centre: Look Forward, Walk Together - Four contemporary Artists from P.L.A., featuring paintings and installation, army music and uniformed artists.

Appointment with Rain at Platform China at 6 PM to see the studio and gallery space and make a list of things I need besides enjoying their event Playtime. Young international and Chinese artists hang out in the pleasant courtyard, some are taking a tango lesson(!), others enjoying the beer and BBQ. Later we witness a contemporary dance performance and an outdoor screening of Jacques Tati's movie Playtime accompanied by DJ l'una.


Friday, July 01, 2005
Home all day working and waiting for a washing machine that finally arrives - needs to be installed. Visit Barbara who is getting help making a rubber mould.

Wonderful massage and acupuncture by Dr. Jin Lei. He keeps laughing - has never laid his hands on such a large woman before.

Barbara cooks me some tofu.


Thursday, June 30, 2005
Visit Denise Keele-Bedford's studio in another neighboring artist compound Suo Ja Cun with Barbara. Denise is Australian and introduces us to a Chinese technique of making paper imprints from stones, and a beautiful yellow food coloring made from egg plums. Suddenly my mobile rings and it is Rigmor who insists I jump in a cab and meet her right away. She has an extra ticket to a TV-studio event: a popular travel program celebrates 15 years on the air and Norwegian musicians Unni Lovlid, Frode Hatli and Terje Isungset play with dong minority musicians from the Guizhou province - would not want to miss that! Half an hour later I am in front of the CCTV building that will be obsolete when Rem Koolhaas's design for new head quarters is completed by the 2008 Olympics.

Later we have a drink on the 20th floor of Capital Hotel with a great view of The Forbidden City, before dinner in the traditional Huajia courtyard restaurant. Nice is an understatement.


Wednesday, June 29, 2005
Today I was robbed at Da Shi Lan market with Brit and Barbara. I was later told it is a tourist trap where this kind of thing happens quite frequently. Spend the day with Ola, the cultural attaché at the embassy, canceling bankcards and making a police report. Now I know why the crime rate is so low in China - because it is virtually impossible to find the police stations unless you speak Mandarin and have a Chinese driver, and even so it takes us more than 5 hours. Luckily, Ola is a super nice fellow and I enjoy the city views through the car windows. The driver is cool too, with dark sunglasses and impressive road-acrobatics protected by his diplomat plates.

A cold beer and Justine's good-buy party wait back in Shangrila. Justine is an Australian Red Gate Gallery resident and has made computer prints featuring her wearing a kengaroo outfit placed into various Beijing environments. I am without my laptop and without my day planner/address book - time to make new contacts...

no water

Tuesday, June 28, 2005
no water what so ever, but cleaning woman arrived

Visit to Qing Qing's studio at 798. She lives with her cat and her dog in a beautiful 300 sq m studio. Her "angle wing" like hemp sculptures sell well in New York and China and allow her to experiment with her intricate light boxes full of dolls and dinosaurs and stuff. She is a very sweet person and an unusual Chinese woman in her 50s since she keeps making her art and doesn't have any children. We have wonderful food in a nearby Chinese restaurant, and watermelon in her loft after.

Beijing is a very big city. We drive the distance from Oslo to Moss to have a shower at Rigmor's place in a gated community towards the airport. I am fascinated by the beautiful green-lit construction sites at night and decide to photograph them, also the glimpses into the workers' triple bunk-bed barracks. The American suburban area she lives in on the other hand I have not much desire for, but the shower and the company is lovely.

happy and computerless

Monday, June 27, 2005
Visited Wang Zhi Yuan's studio during another BBQ at the neighboring artist compound. The walls of his studio are covered in pink panties, each about 80x60 cm. He notes how women are more interested than men to see and buy his art. He is now working on a 3x3 m piece in metal that I really like, it kind of holds more meaning. He describes the contemporary Chinese art scene of independent artists as parallel to the official state funded artists, the first group's connections to the western art world and how new-rich Chinese come by his studio to look and buy. He also talkes about the difference between his generation of artists who have a strong reference in the Cultural Revolution and are concerned with politics and history, while artists 10 years younger are unfamiliar with and uninterested in history - happy and careless...

Laptop diagnosis: motherboard is DEAD and must be ordered from Singapore.
Pen and paper are excellent tools.

no water no men!

Sunday, June 26, 2005
Water has been sparse, periodically dripping out of the faucet enough for a little wash. Barbara and I are getting desperate. We finally get hold of the key to the empty Red Gate Studio that has water - my first hot shower - wonderful!!!

Rigmor and Li Gang's wife are celebrating their birthdays with a BBQ at Shangrila. Li Gang is a sculptor, runs Pickled Art Centre and has been to Norway as a translator during the Hotpot exhibition at Kunstnernes Hus Oslo. A series of found shoes he casted in bronze (above) are exhibited at Red Gate Gallery. He is skeptical to the new conceptual artists' lack a craft. Barbara told a story about her Chinese mother-in-law who told her to wash her panties separately in a bucket, and never to hang them up where they could be seen. Met artist Wang Zhi Yuan who makes women underpants in MDF and pink acrylic paint.