Day 9 travel and conclusion

Beijing International Art Biennale

Trailing my suitcases behind me, I was at the airport, retracing my steps to where I had landed a little bit more than a week ago. This was the moment to finalize and draw the conclusions, to see what had changed in me and what remained unmoved.
In this short trip I saw a lot of outstanding art, at times I was intimidated by the sheer size, numbers and the technical skill used to produce the work. The Art industry scared me outright, reducing me to a speck of dust in the wind.
Walking down the long corridors of the Beijing Capital international airport I am trying to pep myself up, trying to pull above the 10.000 artists in the  Songzhuang art village. I must be better, do better! And I compare 10.000 with my inner individual struggle for creative originality. But quickly 10.000 sighs drown my voice. [personal note: don’t forget the I-object]

robot by Michael Julian (my son)

Lately I was listening to a BBC podcast about ageing. Most life stops, not through old age, but through accidents. Accidents in the widest sense. A warm summer’s day scorching the grass. Animals trapped in a forest fire. The accidental exposure to the wrong bacteria or virus. It seems that our life forms do not put special energy into prolonging life of an individual, but rather in procreating life to ensure the survival of the species on earth.
For humans, we need more than the spreading our DNA for our species to survive. Our existence is also linked to our culture. It allows us to share and express our emotions. Through the formation of culture we find ways to express ideas and pass on our thoughts and experiences.
Are 10.000 artists in Songzhuang enough for passing on their cultural ideas to 1.344.000.000 Chinese?
300.000 German artists for 81.000.000 Germans?
200,000 British artists for 63.000.000 Britains?
180,000 French artists for 65.000.000 people in France?
This is a moment to think latterly about our the future and reality.
a) Art is a product that should be kept exclusive in order to keep a high return value for the investor?

b) Artists carry and spread our cultural heritage, we need more artists to express ideas and pass on our thoughts and experiences.

Day 2, the opening Beijing International ART Biennale

Beijing International Art Biennale, writing

The national museum of art in Beijing was busy and getting ready to receive the guests for the opening. As artists holding our blue and green guest cards we had special access to the exhibition prior to the opening. Mingling with the museum guards still placing guard rails around the sculptures and fixing up the walls with white dabs of paint on brushes we walked through halls and took in the artworks. The ground floor showcased the artwork of the Chinese participants, and like in the previous biennale, the works were exquisite. Large works of dreamy mastery, using traditional ink on paper or oils or acrylic on canvas were confidently painted. The sculptures stood firm in their transformed material. The works where made by men and women that were obviously so well trained in their skills of art making, that we only see such dedication in the west in athletes, dancers or musicians. Hours of practice, hours of doing, resulting in physical actions perfectly synchronized with their thought. Further on in the museum, the republic of Armenia had its own ‘Special exhibition’, as did Mexico, and a series of etchings from Fransisco Goya. Moving up to the 2nd floor the exhibition continued with the works of the international artists. Sometimes a little crowded, the collection showed a full array of diversity found in our world cultures. And it was obvious that the curators of the Beijing international art biennale did not choose the art works by status or personal connections but through an open call for artists. To be part of this varied collection is truly unique.

In the second room I found the familiar grey and green colours of my painting, then I realized it was mine, the painting was hanging on its side. Quickly I looked around to see if I could bring this to the attention of anyone in charge. No one, so appointing myself to take charge. I found two guards to help me. We unhooked the painting, turned it and hung it on its appropriate hanging wire. With some improvisation we levelled the painting so that it was straight, and brushed off the dust and specks of polystyrene packaging flakes. Now we were ready for the opening. The people streamed in; I will have to come back an other day. The work that I presented was ‘sculpture of animals and children’.

More about the process can be found in a short video clip.

Straight lines and curved lines

That day I met up with:

Vu Quang Hung, Nguyen Truong Linh, Ho Mingh Quan, Do Duc Khai, Nguyen Thai Thang, Nguyen Duc Viet, Peter Hiers, Joan Marie Kelly, Mainaz Bano, Jitendra Kumar Sharma, Rajib Bhattacharjee, Maurya Shitanshu Gupt, Sonal Varshneya, Shatrughan Kumar Gupta, Vidya Sagar, Jyotsna Gyanani  Deb Dulal Dutta, Danilo Oyarce , Dmitry Zharov

Day 1 Arrival Beijing International ART Biennale 2012

Beijing International Art Biennale, writing

The first thing on my list would be, as I had promised myself, to take a swim in the pool of the international Beijing Hotel. After a long walk in the hotel, in sandals and a tracksuit, I found the hotel swimming pool in the basement with 3 assistants waiting for me. I reported myself at the desk. A locker key was produced and went from one assistant to me to the other and at the lockers/changing room a towel was wrapped around my waste, my sandals replaced for slippers, then another assistant guided me to the swimming pool through a labyrinth of passages. The swimming pool was large, at the far end a life guard was perched high in his chair guarding a solitary swimmer in the center lane. I choose the side lane, freestyle, breaststroke and to catch my breath a lazy backstroke looking at the painted clouds on the ceiling. After some time the other swimmer ended his swim and left. Now I was the solitary swimmer save guarded by the young man in the high chair. I thought to myself what an odd job?. The quiet ripples of the waves I created where gently caught and damped by the swimming pool float lines.

swimming pool float lines

As I went up and down the length of the water I focused on orientating myself, regarding the pool’s edge, timing myself before I would hit the side, forth pillar, the float lines changing from white to yellow to red, the clouded ceiling edge would end, time to reach out and touch the edge of the pool, turn, push off the wall with my feet. A bit of crawl, then breaststroke, my ears blocked by the bathing cap, the sounds of water echoing of the walls and ceiling as if I were in a cave. After half hour of swimming or so, I got out of the pool and dried myself with the towel. Putting my spectacles on I thought the guard looked so bored he might be near to sleeping. I felt a pity for him remembering the internal battle against sleep in lectures about leverage and force. Now I observed the guard carefully, picking out a reference point on the chair to determine if his body was slowing sagged and crumbling into sleep as he breathed in and out. It seemed as if he was asleep. On turning myself to collect my gear, I heard a loud clatter. He had fallen off the chair. I did not spin around to look, but gave him some time to regain his dignity. But when I did turn, he was not on the chair, nor on the ground but had hidden himself behind a pile of deckchairs.

That day I met up with Nasser Palangi, Elmar Peintner, Linda Verkaaik, MD.Jalal Uddin, Bishwajit Goswami, Khalid Mahmood, A.S.M.Mustafa Jamal Akbar, Robert Evgeni BaramovMichael Lyons, Laurin McCrackenSidi Mohammed Mansouri Idrissi, Edy Asmara Purta, Uuk Paramahita, Bambang Juliarta, Made Gunawan Le Tran Anh Tuan, Nguyen Dinh Vu, Ly Truc Son, Nguyen Khac Chinh.

[if any of the artists have a website that I do not have please write me. If you do not have one, I recommend you should make one. WordPress offers a free service, or blogger or many others.]

Introduction Beijing International Biennale 2012

Beijing International Art Biennale, writing

In the next 9 days I will report on the Beijing International Biennale 2012. It will be an account of my impressions, adventures and thoughts.
In July I received an email from Daniel employee at a logistic company, Germany.
Could you confirm that we can pick up your work on Tuesday morning for the Beijing show?.
Reply: sorry Daniel, I am in Greece at the moment, but next week Thursday I’ll be back, and we can make an arrangement to have the crate picked up.
Reply from Daniel: the work will be put in a container next week Wednesday, so please find some one to give us your work.
Fortunately my work was already crated and ready for shipping. But how was I going to find some one, to break in to my studio, and arrange with a truck driver to pick up my work within the next 4 days?

 sculpture of animals with two children by K Van

The work that was chosen was the top part of a triptych entitled: sculpture of animals with two children