Day4 of the Beijing International art biennale 2012

Beijing International Art Biennale, writing

Mickey (my son) and I stood on the beach. 2010. The ‘’black kite’’ kite that I had bought him in China was about to go up into the sky.
“Not too far”, the three and a half year old told me. I let out some of the string and the kite gave a tug and it was up in the air. The wind pushed our backs and the kite pulled on the line wrapped around my finger. Mickey stood and looked worried, first up at the kite, then me.
“Not to far, that’s enough” he warned again.
But there was nothing I could do. The wind was too strong, the string too thin. It snapped, and the kite like a lame bat fell toward earth. Just as it was about to flop down on the beach a last gust of wind punched the kite. The kite flew up briefly before dropping down some 20 meters into the sea. We ran forwards. ‘’Come!’’ I shouted as I picked Mickey up and ran to the water’s edge. We watched the waves crash over the top of the helpless kite and it sank. Mickey was in tears, I held him close as I scanned the surface of the water in case a wave would bring it up on shore. But the bird had sunk. Devastated over our loss there was no consoling Mickey over the drowned kite. But for a brief moment the bird came up, out of the water. A spark of hope, we could still save the kite, but do I let go of Mickey? how deep is the water? Is there an under current? Get my shoes off? The bird sank again, never to be seen again. The bird became a fish, this is the story that we took home with us. The kite bird that  became the fish.
‘’When you go to China, Koert,’’ Mickey said in earnest once he learned that I would attend the 5th art biennale of Beijing, ‘’you will have to get a new kite, the same one.’’

Two years ago some where near the Qianhai lake I had bought the kite. This year I had a mission, to find the same place, to find the same kite. I set off early from the hotel and followed my instinct. Four hours later I was back at the hotel, with a kite, and a long length of strong kite string.

In the afternoon Alessandro, Christina and I took a taxi back to the museum. Arriving at the museum, a woman had already hailed our taxi.
As we got out she said, ‘’If you want to get in to the museum, you are too late. The won’t let anyone in after 4, they close at 5.’’

‘’We’ll see about that,’’ I said, clutching my biennale participant badge hanging round my neck with a distinct blue cord. As we strode to the entrance, Alessandro and Christina confessed that they did not have their badge.
‘’Ah, but you have your cameras, so you can be photographers.’’
We marched in shielded behind the badge and cameras. Later in the museum I saw the woman we had met out side.
‘’Ah you made it in,” I exclaimed “well done.”
“Yes”, she proudly replied, “I followed you, because I could not miss this museum. It is my last day and the lonely planet guide said, if you have a few hours to spare, you must see this  funky museum.’’

Funky indeed. I was standing mesmerised in-front of the work of Qin Huanshuang, a Chinese painting 185x 315cm ‘Morning in the Sajiangkou’. With my nose practically on the paper I followed the patterns incorporated in one of the farm worker’s jacket. Subtle greys and orange lines folding in and out making the checkerd pattern of a thick shirt that curved around the arms and waists. Nine farm workers, their faces tanned and slightly redend by the cold, smiled outwards as they looked into a bright future.

I moved on to other works, the international section, mainly on the 2nd floor was jam packed with works and ample diversity. It was obvious that some artists had connected with the theme future and reality, and viewed our future critically. Perhaps questioning our motivation to form an alliance with nature, or alienate from nature. Or looking at our constant need to expand.  Others embraced our future not being able to wait for it all to happen, bright opportunities that are just beginning to surface. Dark matter and antimatter, Higgs, our understanding of magnetism in organic matter, the universe ever expanding. And finally artists whose work was completely off topic. But that too is a valid comment on the future and reality of the visual arts.

Art is an expression of our emotion
Not all expressions of emotions are art.
Some of our expressions are better suited for media like Facebook.

From the works that I made most connection with is from Adel Todd, Trinidad and Tobago. Her work deals an other future and reality; violence in boys as they grow to adulthood.

Detail of Anthuriums  Adele Todd Violence Blooms 2006-2009 Trinidad

Detail of Anthuriums Adele Todd Violence Blooms 2006-2009 Trinidad

I spoke to

Giovanni Lillo, Anna Harutyunyan, Mary Moon, Ara Haytayan, Amir Hossein Bayani, Ramtin Zad, Julian Voss-Andreae, Piko Sugianto, George Gavriel, Daniel Ernest Icaza Petersen, Tiiu Kirsipuu , Outi Erika Adamsson, Svenja Jill Deininger, C. Michael Norton, John Keith Brown, Patrick Chong, Zaharia Gheorghe Kriangkrai Kongkhanun ,  Najat Hassan Makki , Noah Daniel Smith Schenk, Peter Wayne Lewis, Alessandro Cardinale, Christina Gori