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2011 Jul 15 Art Attack: Naked Boys, Hutong-inspired Art and a Migrant Family in Transit


Chen Wenling's Red Boys at the Opposite House

This week in the Beijing cultural scene, we’ve got the CCTV building blushing in false modesty at recent global acclaim, Chen Wenling with new sculptures at the Opposite House (courtesy of Red Gate Gallery), exciting new exhibits by Song Dong and Tatsuo Miyajima at the UCCA and Last Train Home, a touching documentary about migrant family issues by Chinese director Fan Lixin.

Who's hot now, sucka?

For those of us working in the shadow of the CCTV building here in the CBD, at least now we know it’s the greatest shadow of the century. Architecture critic for the New York Times Nicolai Ouroussoff declared Monday in this article that “the CCTV headquarters may be the greatest work of architecture built in this century.” As far as we’re concerned, it’s only the greatest sculpture built until real live human beings can get inside and do stuff in it. It’s also pretty bold of Mr. Ouroussoff to make that claim in 2011, when we’ve still got 89 years to go.

"What You see Might Not Be Real," by Chen Wenling

Chen Wenling’s new sculptures based on his signature Red Boys series are up at the Opposite House. A bit more understated than his Bernie Madoff-inspired piece (see above), they’re nevertheless eye-catching and energetic, a fun counterpoint to the solemnity of the chichi atrium. Stop in next time you’re in the area.

A tree grows in ... a hutong bedroom?

Also, Song Dong’s new exhibit opens at the UCCA on Saturday. His hutong-inspired creations showed at the Venice Biennale this year, but are coming home and being remixed in their original and local context – Beijing. Some of the structures will feature “interferences” by Song’s protégés, artists Ma Qiusha and Wang Shang as part of the “Curated by…” series. Also on show at the UCCA will be giant gadget-like sculptures by Japanese artist Tatsuo Miyajima.

Home on the train

Last but definitely not least, catch screenings of Fan Lixin’s much-talked-about documentary Last Train Home at the BC MOMA Saturday and Sunday. (Note: Screenings will be at 7pm, NOT at 4pm, as was previously listed.) Audiences and critics alike have praised the film for its beautiful cinematography and honest approach to the tensions a migrant family faces. Not to mention director Fan is very genuine and a great guy to have a chat with; there’s Q+A following both screenings so you can see for yourself. (You can also read more about the film’s China release on our blog here.)

There’s also a poetry discussion, a debate about Chinese lit and the next in their Summer Cinema series (La Dolce Vita) at the Bookworm, a piano concert featuring Luxembourg’s finest and a screening of Jia Zhangke’s pithy Still Life at Culture Yard. Details for these and other events below.

July 16

Tatsuo Miyajima: Ashes to Ashes, Dust to Dust
Jul 16-Oct 8. Three of the Japanese artist’s giant electronic sculptures will fill the Big Hall with playful yet ominous ticking LED numbers. RMB 15. UCCA (8459 9269)

Song Dong: Wisdom of the Penniless
Jul 16-Sep 8. The artist relives his poor childhood by recreating hutong structures that celebrate the ingenuity and resourcefulness of his family and neighbors. RMB 15. UCCA (8459 9269)

Piano: Jean Muller
Luxembourg’s finest brings his classical, romantic and neoclassical piano stylings to the NCPA. RMB 160-240. 7.30pm. NCPA Multi-functional Theatre (6655 0000)

July 16 + 17

Film: Last Train Home
Your chance to see what they’ve been raving about over at Sundance: Fan Lixin’s heart-wrenching and cinematically compelling documentary about a migrant family’s troubles pulls into Beijing. RMB 40, RMB 30 (students and seniors, RMB 25 (members). 4pm. BC MOMA (8438 8258)

July 19

Film: Still Life
Jia Zhangke’s painterly film about a family’s displacement by inevitable flooding from the Three Gorges Dam project. Reservation required: RMB 25 (includes soft drinks and popcorn). 7pm. Culture Yard (8404 4166)

Poetry: Word of Mouth with Catherine Bowman
The American poet has been around the block (and globe) gathering soundbites of poets in their “natural” settings: street corners, cafés, parks and rooftops. RMB 30, RMB 20 (members). 8pm. The Bookworm (6586 9507)

July 20

Debate: Wolf Totems, Red Lanterns and Shanghai Babies
Chinese contemporary literature: cliché rehashings of the Cultural Revolution or a real cultural revolution? Critic and professor Wang Jiaxin, sinologist Wolfgang Kubin and poet and translator George O’Connell discuss. RMB 30, RMB 20 (members). 7.30pm. The Bookworm (6586 9507)

July 21

Summer Cinema: La Dolce Vita
Social status, a writing career and a lovely girlfriend battle it out for Marcello’s attention. Enjoy this rooftop showing with an accompanying . Free. 7.30pm. The Bookworm (6586 9507)

Photos from ChinaSmack.com and HuffingtonPost.com

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If you were planning to catch the "Indian Highway" exhibit at the UCCA, you might wish you’d gone sooner, as now there will be one less work to see. And chances are, it’ll now be the one everyone’s talking about. Also this week, another screening of the graffiti documentary Spray Paint Beijing, Godard’s Breathless up on The Bookworm rooftop, and updates on art exhibit openings and closings.

We already let you know last week that the 48 Hour Film Project, the annual short film competition that’s been running in Beijing for three years now, will not be taking place this weekend as planned. Also not taking place: the Food, Film & Friends cooking/film screening event at The Hutong. Also, Hunger Games is finally set to hit theaters, and several art exhibits are closing up shop. Read on for details.

Do you think line 10's running by now?

Everyone still alive? No one froze to death clutching a wooden plank last night? Whew.

It’s Friday, we all have the day off and I’m rounding up all the fun things you artsy-culturey people can do this weekend. But I’m also looking outside and just a little bit depressed by what I’m seeing. At least there are several big art shows opening this weekend plus a modern dance show tonight. And next week, you’ve got LGBT stories on video and the NCPA’s closing opera. I guess if outside’s not so beautiful, we'll have to look for it indoors.