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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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)
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)
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)
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)