Monday, 22 November 2010

chasing the dragon

Another week; another country. This time back to China and Beijing. It was supposed to be a three day event chasing visas but the Mongolian Embassy was mysteriously closed forcing us to stay in 5-star luxury a few extra days. Sometimes life is too cruel.
Beijing has become a surprise entry into my top five favourite cities featuring at number four ahead of Marrakech but behind Rome, New York and London. It is a truly special place where Communism and Capitalism dance a merry jig arm in arm.
This week I spent a good many hours wandering around the 798 District. Originally a Bauhaus styled factory complex from the 50's it is now the vibrant centre of a contemporary art scene that has emerged since the shackles of Communism have loosened a little. What used to be factories are now galleries, what were tool sheds are now studios. Everything from photography and fashion to sculpture and architecture is on display. You can watch people creating, absorb the artwork or partake in purchasing.
Mixed between the buildings a Chinese cafe culture is springing up. Although there are foreign visitors it is almost exclusively a local affair with the trendiest and most fashionable of Beijing hanging out and looking fabulously cool.
The best installation I saw was called 'Come the Wolf'; one hundred and fifty bronze wolves prowling towards a lone swordsman, highly evocative. My sole concern was the irresponsible treatment of dinosaurs I witnessed. It was truly miserable to see such beauties caged.
Chinese of the day:- thank you :: xie xie