opening night 4

Saturday, July 30, 2005
Opening at Platform: Wan Wei Trap installation. The gallery space is filled with a rusty labyrinth like scaffold structure surrounding an oversized bird trap built in fine wood sticks. About 200 small birds inhabit the exhibition space. They alternately feed from the centrally placed seeds, fly, sing, despair and occasionally die. The public is similarly intrigued and frustrated by this captivating maze.

At China Art Archives across the street they show Retarded, featuring abstract paintings. We continue to 798 where 3 + 3 space shows drawings, while a very interesting exhibition, Making a new relationship - The Art Ethics, shows at Dimensions Art Center.

The central piece is Shu-Min Lin's intriguing installation with water lilies growing and fish jumping according to 2 opposing participants' brain waves. CCTV reporters are on the spot and ask us to give our opinion -my 2nd appearance on China's airwaves.

After checking mail and dining we check out an electronic music event. Multiple Apple laptops, LCD projectors, a mic and an el-guitar turn out to be more technology than they can handle. We hang out and wait for a while. Run into Nathalie who introduces us to Australian artist Iain Mott who is preparing an installation at the Long March Space. He knows the music scene here and hooks Melvin up with some people. Back in the studio I edit my water video until the sun comes up.


Friday, July 29, 2005
I ask Ola to get in touch with the CCTV site to try to give me access to take photos. He calls back later with a bad news: a straight no ? security reasons? Have to try another strategy. Rain and I decide I need a brave man who speaks English and Chinese. I circle in on Lou Hong who agrees to take me to the empty buildings left by the site. He also lends me a tripod.

7:30 BBQ at Platform China, welcome party for me. Bård, Li Gang and the gang from ShangriLa come. Chinese friends Bajou, Xu Zhongmin and Xiao Lu. The director has invited some other resident artists: Caroline from Sweden and from England. Melvin DJs and everyone are having a good time drinking and talking into the small hours.

a burst of creativity

Thursday, July 28, 2005
I'm in a great work mode. Draw and conceptualize my new installation. Go in town to buy a fire-wire cable for my video camera. Visit the CCTV construction site and suddenly remember why I came here. I have to get access and photograph this! It looks awesome - 2 huge holes like the WTC site. Have to rush to pick up my contact sheets at the lab - 8 stops on 2 subway lines and a cab ride later I make it there just before they close. Take another cab to 798 and update HOTLOG with the Shanghai trip. The At Café has free wireless broadband access, cold beer and tuna sandwich - life is swell until the battery dies. Have to wake up the gatekeeper. Work on recording and capturing various water sounds. I am inspired, draw and develop the installation till late night, sleep a few hours and wake up by my spinning mind. The tent has to be made of green construction mesh. Ideas and to-do lists develop in my head - you've got to love a sleepless night.

the wall is great

Wednesday, July 27, 2005
Wake up early to make it to Shangrila by 9. It feels great to leave town for some trees, lakes, mountains and countryside. We go in his van with 2 French artists, a Brazilian/New York/Paris sculptor, Bård's brother and the Li Gang family.

First stop is the foundry at the end of a dirt road. Some sheds around a courtyard that houses all you need. I know the process from my Italian sculptor friends in New York. I like the sandbags.

We have lunch outside by a beautiful lake where I take some abstract close-ups of trees reflecting in the water. The food is great and the air is heavenly, Beijing is mad polluted.

The Great Wall is truly great. You cannot really exaggerate about that. We take a lift up, climb as far as it goes, see Mongolia, mountains with the wall on top as far as the eye can see. Down from the wall we ride a Tobaggan (slide). It goes really fast and is great fun! Back in Shangrila I record the water tank going blup and see our friends. Rain calls and we head over to Platform.

public enemy

Tuesday, July 26, 2005
Arrive in Beijing at 7 and have the unpleasant experience of catching a cab in rush hour. Leave the bags at Platform and go shopping at the Super Store by 798. It's important to have a good first meal in a new house. The studio is nice and spacious and we settle in. Go to Shangrila to pick up the rest of our luggage. Wash some clothes and have tea with Li Gang who invites us for a trip to his bronze foundry that is close to the Great Wall. Bård Breivik has arrived and we introduce ourselves. His brother is also there. Rain helps us with some more practical stuff at Platform. I put up the mosquito tent over our bed and we go to sleep after killing a hundred public enemy number 1 with an electric tennis racket device.

goodbye Shanghai

Monday, July 25, 2005
I have an appointment with Biljana Ciric at Duolund Museum of Modern Art, but end up at the artist commune on Moganshan Rd by mistake. It is a lucky mistake cause I wanted to see some more of the galleries and spaces here.

I visit East Link Gallery - a beautiful, raw gallery with cool art, Shanghart Warehouse - a dusty collection of famous Chinese artists, and a handful other galleries. The area is not as upscale as 798, but it is interesting to see the spaces and how they present the art. I don't have too much time, so I hop in a cab to see Biljana in the northeast part of town. She welcomes me warmly, and it turns out we know many of the same people. They have an international residency program, and she is smart and enthusiastic. I get a feeling I might be coming back here. She co-curated the multimedia exhibit we saw at the Zendal Museum, and recommends I visit 2 galleries on the Bund, so I go there.

The cabdriver tells me nobody owns their cab in Shanghai, and drivers have to give 400 RMB/day to the company they rent from. If they drive a 12 hours shift they might make btw 600-800 RMB total -that's pretty bad, and they don't take tips. We have a great early dinner before entering our soft sleeper cabin just before departure.


Sunday, July 24, 2005
We decide to visit Shanghai Aquarium - an expensive but enjoyable place to visit. Fish for days, and sharks in overhead tunnels and escalators diving into pools of fish and turtles and more fish. Brought my Hasselblad and take pictures of fish, buildings and construction sites.

Take the ferry back to the Bund and walk into the old Chinese quarters to buy a present at the antique market. It is dark already, and all the little stores and parlors and restaurants in the narrow streets look great. You can really see how people live and work. They like it when I photograph them and their shops and I am grateful. On the subway they have signs saying MIND YOUR HEAD ? I like that.