Saturday, August 13, 2005
I check out the water prints and decide which close-ups to enlarge.

Discuss how to hang the tent with the metal worker. Rain arranges for a driver, YoYo, who speaks some English to take me to the construction market and photo lab. I need more green screen, nuts and bolts, rope and straw mats for the tent. Everything is far apart, and it takes time to drive and bargain. The lab takes my negs for scanning and we agree on a prize. Back to Platform with the stuff and then to 798 to log on at At Café, the connection is down, I grab a bite, pay the rest of the bill at the printer, buy some food and go home to join a little party at a gallery across the yard. The air is thick and hot and a heavy thunderstorm brakes loose. Soon we have no electricity and no water, except what's pouring from the sky. Thanks to Jack and the computer battery I can still work between chasing bugs off my screen and mosquitoes off my feet. That's it - good night!


Friday, August 12, 2005
Work on the installation fitting the screens to the structure. Carry some more bricks upstairs and clean them in the bathroom. It's a strange ritual, and I become aware of all the little defects and variations in each brick. After lunch I take a cab to meet Natalie at the CCTV site. She is waiting at the wrong construction site - there is another on the adjacent block - but we find each other and I lead the way to the empty buildings I want to enter. We find an open gate and walk up the stairs. Every door has a locked metal gate. We walk all the way to the top floor and I look up: an open hole to the roof and a few metal steps above a door. What great luck! I leave the camera and tripod and climb up - whoa - the view is awesome! Natalie hands up the bags and climbs after. We are both excited. We can see the whole mighty construction site with workers in red and blue and yellow hard hats. They look so small, and the trucks look like toy cars. Several huge cranes are swinging in the air. The sky is yellow like the earth underneath, and the strong colored hats and machines stand out. Finally I am satisfied, pack up my cameras and we descend the same way we arrived.

Next stop is the photo lab, I have no time to spare... The contact sheet of the close-ups from the fence surrounding the CCTV site is ready. They came out good! I decide to try to get home by bus, first to the 4th ring, then 737 all the way to Dashanzi. It takes forever, but only costs 2 RMB. Well home I clean the bathroom floor after last night's rain, take a shower and eat. A heavy rain starts, and my bathroom is flooded with that stinky crap again. Caroline is having an open studio at Fei Jia Cun. If it stops raining I will go. It does momentarily. She has made a huge graffiti like painting. A mixed crowd show up and we dance to the flashing strobe light into the night.

just moment

Thursday, August 11, 2005
Take a cab to the other side of town to a recommended photo lab to hand in a film and discuss cost and printing technique. Some very friendly customers help translate. Prices are a lot cheaper than in NY or Europe.

Cab to Lido to take some cash only to discover I have left my credit card at home - what a bummer. Buy bootleg DVDs of Vertigo and Killing by Numbers, take another cab to Platform to pick up my card and go back to Lido - you got do what you got do.

Spend a lot of time negotiating with the printer at 798. Want them to make a test of the translucent water series before they start the job. Enjoy a tuna salad at At Cafe while I wait for the test. 5 1/2 hours later I just made it out of the print shop where this cute girl was running around saying "just moment" till I almost lost my mind. The Chinese consept of time can drive any New Yorker up the wall. They are supposed to deliver the prints to the gallery tomorrow afternoon - we'll see. Have to send some mail but the connection is not good.

When I get back to Platform, the lights are on upstairs and I hear banging and welding. The metal worker really came with 3 helpers and the frame for the fence is almost done. It looks great! These guys know what they are doing. With very basic tools they're done in no time.


Wednesday, August 10, 2005
I am now part of the Chinese enterprise. Calculate the amount of steel and construction screen required to build my project. The metal worker agrees on a price and goes to buy the materials while I prepare the poster and invitation card with Rain. The Embassy has agreed to sponsor the cost.

Go to 798 to talk to the printer about the poster and transparent water prints. Have dinner with Iain who is making a story-telling piece at Long March. Check mail and update HOTLOG @ At Café.

100 bricks

Tuesday, August 09, 2005
Bajou, who writes for Art Today magazine, comes for a studio visit. I show her my work and we have an interesting conversation. The storm didn't really happen, but it is raining all day. I have a hundred bricks across the street. A worker wants to know how much I will pay him to carry the bricks - I don't know, I feel awkward and I opt for doing it myself. With an umbrella in one hand and 2 bricks in the other I make numerous trips up and down stairs and across the flooded yard to put down the cornerstones of my construction. The room is smaller than I thought and I have to make some adjustments. 2 different metal workers come to discuss price and technique.

At night I hop in a cab to visit Karen Smith. Stop by the Apple store to buy a cable on the way. Karen has a beautiful office by the east gate of the Jingshan Park right north of the Forbidden City. Her place is furnished with Chinese design, and a great collection of local contemporary art hangs on the walls. Karen has lived in Beijing for 13 years, curates exhibitions, writes about, deals and organizes art. Her partner Ray is a British creative consultant mainly working in fashion. They welcome me warmly, and the dinner table is set. More people arrive: Iwan from Amsterdam works for Rem Kolhaas. I try to convince him to let me in to the CCTV site, but he barely has access himself... Ignacio, a young scientist from Venezuela is visiting a conference on the environment, and Xing Danwen is an established Chinese artist who arrives late because her car broke down. We talk about how China is nothing like we thought.

Bård's work

Monday, August 08, 2005
Take a cab to Shangrila where a crew is shooting a movie. Bård makes me a real cup of espresso coffee - now we're talking. We jump in a cab to the metal workshop to see his work. Pretty impressive! Metal is twisted and bent and hammered to form waves and crooked structures. We have lunch with the workers in a nearby village. Bård is a very cool guy, enthusiastic and generous.

A big rain storm is expected tonight. Everybody are worried, me mostly for the stink from a flooded bathroom... I go to buy some food and prepare for the worst. Rain and Nathalie are checking in on me with care and advise, everything looks calm.

Sundays are great for work

Sunday, August 07, 2005
Busy bee. Long meeting with Natalie about my installation.

Tuna sandwich, fries and a bottle of Tsingtao at At Café makes checking mail a pleasure - so damn civilized :)