My first contact with China was in 1987. I was travelling on the Tanzania Railway. The railway was built by the Chinese in the 70ties and still runs 1800 km from Dar es Salaam into the middle of Zambia. Chinese tracks, bridges, locomotives, coaches and stations in pale mint green were constructed, build and dotted across the African landscape. “The road to freedom” enabling Tanzania and Zambia to export their goods via the ports of Dar es Salaam. Distinctly I remember the soft bronze bell chimes echoing gently in the station waiting halls, these tender chimes so remarkably Chinese I could almost catch the musky odour of China float in the air. When I boarded the train, it came to me that all the operating signs, such as opening and closing of windows, operating the fans or light or toilets, were in Chinese. So prevailing were the images and icons of China that I closed my eyes to the sounds of the wheels hitting the spaces in-between the lengths of the railway track.
cluck-clung clunk- clung.
and I imagined myself to be in China.
On the 20 of October 2010 at 14h00 I set foot on China for the 4th Beijing international art Biennale. A different China to the one I had experienced in Africa in 1987. The well-marked roads leading to the centre of the city were that of a standardised modern world type. I mean, as I was sitting back in the taxi seat with the window slightly open catching the breeze thinking, if you would take away the road signs in our uniformed modern cities you could be any where in the world. We passed skyscraper after skyscraper and finally my mobile phone gps system showed we were approaching the Beijing Hotel.
In the hotel lobby I was met by one of the friendly members of the Chinese Artists Association, and was given a hotel room key card, a name badge and a beautiful catalogue of all 562 art pieces.
`Meet us here at 4:30 pm´, she said, stressing the 4:30. `the buses will take us to the banquet this evening.´
I had arrived a day too late. With the moon festival, all the flights to Beijing were fully booked. So I was not able to see the opening of the exhibition in the National Art Museum of China. The catalogue made up for that, and in my room with the TV playing a chinese soap ‘to love is immune’, I made a study of the art works. 535 artists.
Five hundred and thirty-five thinking about Environment Concerns and our Human Existence
At 16:45, five buses filled with some two hundred artists left the hotel with a police escort towards the Olympic city for the banquet. While we walked the last bit to the our feast hall in the Green Convention Center, being photographed and photographing, I felt we were true Olympiads.
An enormous hall filled with tables covered in deep orange cloths, plates, cutlery and wine glasses invited us in. Near the stage, up centre, a place for the extra honourable members with a red table-cloth. The seating arrangement was easy, we sat down, introduced ourselves, by name and country. How easy and gentle the evening flowed. We were all humble artists.
What do you mean by humble? someone asked later on.
We were all approachable, like small talk. Yet our essence, our art, was heavy, something larger than ourselves and its awkward size difficult to control.
Twenty three dishes were served.
I spoke to artists about their daily lives. In our common physical existence, the artists weaves and twists, with time and space to find a physical form for the creation. Time to make money and money to make time to make the creation. Time to share with day jobs, trivial necessities and the hunger to create. Time gained to be used to stare blankly into space. Space to have to fill with time. A concern about the artists and his own existence in his environment.
Environment Concerns and our Human Existence, we are aware that this subject is bigger than us. The next morning this is the discussion point for the conference were abstracts are expanded and opinions given.
”seeking harmony without uniformity”, ”modern transformation”, ”flower and bird”, ”global art, rapid”, ”the character of land is changing, changing urban space” are just a few phrases.
It should come a no surprise that China chose this theme as chinese art has always made a clear connection between home environment, harmony and nature, and it is interesting to note that art academies in China gave a department of Environmental Art. The art works presented by China in the Biennale, were of very high standard. Also the works which I saw in art galleries were made with high quality workmanship.
Each time we had a break I was astounded to be surrounded by so many artists. In the queue for a coffee, or in the elevator, or at the lunch table, a conversation could be struck up with ease.
‘What do you do?’ we were on the same level, ‘sculptor, printmaker, painter,’ and when the conversation lingered on about our children, mobile phones were exchanged with blurred pictures of our kids and we recognised each others struggle, doubt and calculated movement behind each action in our work of creation.
After a quick-lunch I was able to get out and walk up Wangfujing street towards the National Art Museum to see the artworks. Having met the artists (as a group) I felt to be in the right mood to see and ”listen” to their creation. The front gate of the national museum of modern arts was proudly draped in a green banner announcing the exhibition and guarded by a stout soldier standing to attention at the gate. I showed my badge to the guard and a museum attendant and made my way towards the entrance.
The exhibition, like the artists, was diverse and exotic. High art low art. The gathering of the artworks was astounding. It is important to note that the Beijing international art Biennale was an open call to artists. Announcements of the event were spread throughout the world, via print and especial the internet. The gallery, museums and art bureaucrats filters were dismantled and there was direct communication between the artists and the curators of the BIAB. This is remarkable as China is perceived as being closed and cautious. In my city, such open calls are snubbed and sniggered at by the art bureaucrats of the Hague. The BIAB makes a new step forward involving the artists of the world and the public of the world, each with their own starting point. As I walk through the rooms with 562 art works from all over the world, I remember my walk through the gate of the Chinese built railway station in Dar Salaam were the blend of Africa and China was so awe-inspiring.
Bi Jianxun, Wei Cai move, Chen Hui, Meng-Xin, Fan Chunxiao, Hanxiu E, Huang Hongtao, Jiang Haoyu, Jiao Yang, Jinrui, Li Aifeng, Li Congjun, Li Jun, Nai-Wei, Li Yilan, Liu Jingui, Lu Yunting, Ma Zhigang, Mei Qilin ,Shang Jin, Song Guanghua, Tang Yong force, Tian Zhongli, Tu Shaohui, Wang Boxun, Wang Haibin, Wang Yaping,Wang Yongfu,Xi Fengshan and Dong Xueshen, Xu Bin, Yang Yang,Zhan Guochao,Zhang Jianchao, Zhang Long,Zhang Xiongying and Yang Jie,Zhang Yingcai and He Ren, Zhou Jianxiang, Zhou Tao,Zhou Xiaolu and Zhou Xiaoming, Chao Ge, Chen Shuzhong, Cui Jun, Ding Fang, Du Renbilige,Fu Sennian,Gao Jiaming,Guang Tingbo, Guo Hua, Bo Han,Hao Rubing,Kang Lei,Lan Libin,Li Tiexiang, Li Xiangming, Li Yichun,Liu Mingcai, Luo Zhinan,Ma Lin, Ma Zhanyong, Chen Jianwei,Su Shangzhou, Sun Tao, Sun Xun, Wang Haijun, Wang Hongwei,Wang Keju, Wang Zhiping,Wu Hanhuai, Wu Jinan, Xie Dongming, Xu Weixin, Xu Xiaoyan, Xue Hongsheng, Yali, Yan Ping,Yang Canjun, Yang Feiyun, Ye Nan,Yu Xiaodong, Come over with,Yu Hanxi, Zhu Sha, Zhu Ming,Zuo Guoshun, Chang Hong, Chen Ling Kwong,Chen Lingguang,Ding Lifen, Hu Mingzhe, Hu Wei, Li Sa, Liu Yong, Lu Yan, Miao Tong, Song Weidong,Wang Kaifang,Xu Muyuan, Zhao Chao, Zhao Zhiming, Chen Gang, Chad Hansen, Chen Jie, Deng Ke, Diao Yunbo, Guo Qi,Guo Xinchong, He Qiang,Leng Tianming,Lin Sen, Lin Xi, Liu Bo Tong, Liu Yuting,Luo Si,Qian Wei,Shen Hongbiao,Tan Xu, Wang Lei, Wang Qingchun, Wang Xia, Wang Yi Ning, Wang Zhenyu, Xiao Xiaoqiu, Xu Xiaoding, Xu Hongfei, Xu Zhenglong,Xue Junqiu, Yang Yongzhi, Xiang Zeng, Zhang Dehua, Zhang Haipeng, Zhang Zheyu, Zhu Yong, Chen Haiyan, Chen Qi, Generation of power,Zhou Jianpeng,Feng Jianhui, He Lin, Hou Qi,Hou Wei, Li Huajun, Li Limin, Li Pengpeng, Li Xiaolin, Ling Junwu, Gen-, Luo Guirong, Peng Wei, Shan Dan, Shih-Min Wang, Wang Yan, Xu Kuang,Zhang Hengzhong,Zhang Jiang, Zhang Shunqing, Zhao Ti, Support Ping Shan, Liang Yunxian,Liu Youquan,Nan Xi, Shen Ping,Li Xiaoqiao,Pan Jinling, Huang Rong Yan,Yan Xu Wanzhen, Jun Yan Tai,,? Formerly of,Alicia Candiani,Andrea Jua,Karen Hovakimiam ,Vahram Harutyunyan,Nasser Palangi,Len Zuks,Elmar Peintner,Josef Jobst,Eva M.Paar,Ali Ahmed Hassan Khamees,Kazi Salahuddin ahmed,DEBASHIS PAL,Maurice Pasternak,Tas Nele,Carla Francisca Fatio,Marcio Monteiro De Barros,Greddy Assa,Delia Mihaylova Chausheva,Valchan Petrov,Myo Khin,Chhim Sothy,Nereus Patrick Cheo,Joan Theresa Cullen,Michel Beaucage,Dil Hildebrand,Marion Lea Jamieson,Isabel Saa,Isabel Saa,Patrizia Desideri Fernándezez,Beatriz Martine diaz,Sergio Numan,Patricio Mario Salinas Diaz,Domingo Alejandro Gonzalez Flores,Victor Manuel Pavez,Lina Binkele,Moussala Lumiere Steven,Guy Lema,Lema Kusa,Silvia Monge,Li Briceño,Ana Beatriz Sanchez,Milivoj Segan,Jose Bedia,Despina Fysentzou,Rinos Stefani,Klitsa Antoniou,George Jalil,Anetta Stylianou,Patrik Habl,Torben Heron Torben Heron,Hanne Sie Hanne Sie,Iris Perg Iris Perg,Emad Shfeek Rezk Emad Shfeek Rezk,Kawther Elsherif Kawther Elsherif,Essam Mohomed Sayed Darwish Essam Mohomed Sayed Darwish,Lamis Adel Haggag Lamis Adel Haggag,Hanan Mahmoud Ismail El-Sheikh,Kareem Abdelmoteleb Amin Alqurity,Mohamed Ibrahim Elmasry Mohamed Ibrahim Elmasry,Ehab Mohamed Zakaria Ellabam Ehab Mohamed Zakaria Ellabam,Armen Agop Armen Agop,Kaido Ole Kaido Ole,Hannaleena Heiska Hannaleena Heiska, PEKKA KAUHANEN PEKKA KAUHANEN,HÄNNINEN HÄNNINEN,Odile Bonitace Odile Bonitace,Rémy Aron Rémy Aron,Christine Serain Christine Serain Su Ting,Anna Stein,Chantal Andrea Barthelemy Chantal Andrea Barthelemy,Isabelle ROUGIER-BRIERRE Isabelle ROUGIER-BRIERRE,Benjamin JOFFRE Benjamin JOFFRE,Jean Michel Rolland Jean Michel Rolland,Federique TREY Federique TREY,Alma (Kartmann Marcel) Alma (Kartmann Marcel),Hervet Frederique Hervet Frederique,Alekasandre Gelashvili Alekasandre Gelashvili,Martina Buttner,Tobias Marx Tobias Marx,Gerald Kriedner Gerald Kriedner,Gina Plunder Gina Plunder,Schaarmann Werner Schaarmann Werner,Hand Scheib Hand Scheib,Anne Muller-Dorn Anne Muller-Dorn,markus LINNENBRINK markus LINNENBRINK ,Theodosia Argyraki-Asariotaki Theodosia Argyraki-Asariotaki,Trialoni Maria Trialoni Maria , ,,Zaharaki Panagiota Zaharaki Panagiota,Vangelis Rinas Vangelis Rinas,Adrianos Sotiris Adrianos Sotiris ,Dimitra Koumantak Dimitra Koumantak,Kukulaki Stella Kukulaki Stella ,Barbara Gerodimou Barbara Gerodimou ,Simon Zsolt . Simon Zsolt Simon. Nolte,Magdalena Margret Kjartandottir Magdalena Margret Kjartandottir,Gudjon Ketilsson Gudjon Ketilsson,Sigga Bjorg Sigurdardottir,Latika Katt Latika Katt,Kashyap Parikh Kashyap Parikh,Daroz Pandurangiah Daroz Pandurangiah,Arpana Caur Arpana Caur,Shail Kumar Choyal Shail Kumar Choyal,Deb Dulal Dutta Deb Dulal Dutta,Rajib Bhattacharjee,Manoj Dutta,Kishor Shinde,Sulistyono Sulistyono ,Uce Alamsyah Lubis,Jndra Dodi,Antonius Kho,Made Supena ,Nyoman Sujana Kenyamam ,Made Gunawan,Putu Edy Asmara Putra,Naghme Kharazian,Aliakbar Jahangard,Amirhossein Bayani,Farahnaz Azarabadi Hagh,Nikoo H. Tarkhani,Talieh Majdabadi,Daryoush Habjbkhani,Negar Mobarak Zadeh,Taha Behbahani,Ahmad Nadalian,Aya Eliav,Shlomo Alfandary,gideon rubin,Grimaldi Antonino,Lanari Lanfranco,Vincenzo Balamo,Matteo Ferretti, Claudia Mezzettii,Maria Cristina Carlini,Gabriele Tamburini,Gerard Hanson,Garfield L. Morgan,Tina Spiro,Michael Parchment,Atira Robinson,Hitoshi Asano,Hiroyuki Miyazaki,Kuchida Maki,Takizawa,Yuji Kobayashi,kota kinutani,Yoko Makorhi,Keiji Usami,Takemi Azumaya,Ikeda Ryoji,Akira Kurosaki,Yoshio Kitayama,Kamal Ibrahim Arigat, Nesreen Suboh,Jalal Ibrahim Arigat,Kaliolla Akhmetzhan,Raikul Akhmetzhanova,Arnold Odhiambo Juma,Khamsouk Keoming Muang,Kanha SIKOUNNAVONG,Dita Luse,LENA KELEKIAN,HAGOP SULAHIAN,Severija InCirauskaite-Kriauneviciene,Nathalve Noe Adam,DENY Martine,Vasko Taskovski,Tome Mishev,Marjan Denkov,Lee Sin Bee,Sultana Bibi Haukim,Dev Chooramun,Rafael Ontiveros Bedolla,Maria del Carmen Martinez Genis,Angel Martinez Martinez,Albino Adelaido Luna Albino,Antonio Alvarez Portugal,Marcela Alejandra Herrera Ramirez,Gabriela Abud,Martha Rosa Ortiz Sotres,Sereeter Gochoo,Batbaatar Khurelbaatar,Ulziibaatar Ayush, Ganbaatar Gungaasukh,Khongorzul Byambasuren,Bert Brouwer,K Van,Henk Olijve,Peter Coates,Roger Thompson,El Anatsui,Torhild Aukan,MUHAMMAD ASHRAF HEERA,Mussarrat Nahid Imam,Shiblee Munir,,Alesia Lund Paz,Gna Maria Pizarro Richter,Marcela Gastelumendi,Enrique Galdos Rivas,Marines Perea,cristina “Kitty”S.Taniguchi,Jerzy Dobrzanski,Agata Agatowska,Michal Tatarkiewicz,Malgorzata Karp-Soja,Jarostaw Kweclich,Jagna Wesolowska,Roman Lipsky,Petru Lucaci,Vasilica Chifu,Virginia Videa,Manuela Botis,Ivan Lukyano,Vladimir Borodin,Kalyuta Marina, Dutgov Lev,Viacheslav Mikhaylov Viacheslav Mikhaylov,Kalyuta Yuri,Zubov Evgeny Zubo,Pogosian Alexander Hong,Ronald Moran,Thea Tini,Ivana Davidovic Ivana Davidovic,Vida Stefanovic,Vida Stefanovic Vida Stefanovic,Jelena Sredanovic,Jelena Sredanovic Jelena Sredanovic,Bassirou Dieng,Chen Ruixian Chen Ruixian,Sookoon Ang,Dang Dawu,Vljana Zmetakova,Martina Stirn,Miha Strukelj,Jeannette Rosemund Unite,Wayne Barker,Jake Aikman,Johann Louw,Kim Cha Yean,Kin sun-hyoung ,Kim Yeon-kyu ,Lin Yuxiang,Chung Ji Lee ,Hyun Ha Kim ,Liu Yi Chi,Rafael Bestard Mas,Miroslava V Ledo ,Paco Pomet,Carmen M. Genis,B.Sarath Gunasiri Perera B. Sarath Gunasiri Perera ,DPAchala Shanthi Theja Gunawardana DPAchala Shanthi Theja Gunawardana ,Polgahage don Chandana Gunathi Laka,Yrjo Edelmann,Richard Brixel,Eva Zettervall,Neuhaus Fraenzi,Ghassan Nana,Mostafa Ali,Patcha Kaewtongtal ,Anongnat Sacdeaw,Tachatpong Ketputum,Pallop Wangborn ,Tasana ,Mr.Ariya Kitticharoenwiwat,Latife Akin ,Mualla Gurle,Sencer G u”‘ l u”‘ n,Sefkat Islegen ,Faden Suzan Kudsioglu,Aysegul Yarar,Mehmet Siyarbar Epozdemir ,Shulyok Tatiana,Michael Lyons,Sarah Jacqueline Caputo,Alan Waters,ori gersht,Gordon Cheung,Najat Hassan Makki,Jalal Luqman,Billy Lee,Nubia Medina,Bart Lee Vargas,Gregory A.Bailey,Plamen Yordanov,Peter Hiers,Jeffrey Mihalyo,Uba Owl,Laurin Mccracken,Paul Mircea Goreniuc,Victor Payares ,Edouard Duval Carrie,Amed Gomez,Sun Xiuting,Pedro Leon Carrillo,Jose Campos Biscardi,Ho Minh Quan,Nguyen Ngan,Nguyen Viet Anh,Tran Chi Thanh,Le Ngoc Han,Nguyen Minh Tan,Charles Chambata,Ousseynou Wade,Alfred Liyolo