Sunday, 24 June 2007

More Mao

Beijing Fable 1998, Photography 71.5 x 100 cm by Gao Brothers

This photograph belongs to a series of four photographs ....

.... that together are an 'Installation on Tiananmen' 2000, Photograph each 100 x 67 cm (total 10.000 USD)
by the Gao Brothers.

It is apparently criticising Mao by showing the rotten frame of Chairman Mao's picture at the entrance of the Forbidden City at Tiananmen Square.

Miss Mao No2, 2006, Sculpture 210cm x 140cm x 150cm, by Gao Brothers

A poster, seen in Dashanzi Art Center, Beijing

'Mao Dishes', ceramics by Li Mingzhu.
The artist criticises with his 'Mao Dishes' those who make money with Mao's face. 'It is like eating Mao's face' he said in his studio in Songzhuang Art Village, east of Beijing.

Mao-Kitsch, Mao-Pop Art, criticising Mao or criticising making money with Mao - at the end it is all Mao.

Is it about 'coming to terms with the past'?

If you want to discuss the popularity of Chairman Mao in China, you are welcome to leave a comment.

I am off now to good old Europe. And in three weeks I am here.

More art info, details and pictures at the following links:
Gao Brothers
798 Space (part of Dashanzi Art District)

Friday, 22 June 2007

Chairman Mao Imitation

'Chen Yan, a 51-year-old woman, poses for a portrait while impersonating China's late Chairman Mao Zedong, in Mianyang, Sichuan province May 26, 2007. Chen, who stands at 1.55 meters (5 feet 1 inch) has to wear a pair of specially designed shoes to increase her height to 1.80 meters (5 feet 11 inches) to imitate Mao. She was discovered by a beautician while impersonating Mao on a local TV show. [Reuters]'

I wonder how her shoes looked like...
... and I wonder why Chinese still adore Mr. Mao?

Other Odd News from China via China Daily - Odd News

Wednesday, 20 June 2007

Beijing Opera Star: Mei Lanfang

Do you think this is a Chinese Princess from another time?
Yes and No.
This is Mei Lanfang (1894-1961), husband and father in the stage dress of a young woman - the only roles he played in Beijing Opera. Also called Peking Opera or Jingju Opera.
Mei Lanfang was born in an actors' family. He started to study Chinese Opera at the age of eight and performed for the first time when he was twelve. He also was the first Chinese to introduce Beijing Opera to the World with his tours to Japan in 1919 and 1924, to the US in 1930 and the USSR in 1932 and 1935.

He was not only a great actor, but also a painter. He studied Chinese painting with his painter friends every day. But later concentrated more on acting again as Beijing Opera requests not only talent for singing, but also for dancing and martial art. The singing is very different form the Western Opera. All actors, male or female roles, seem to sing in these high tones and because they do not move the lips that much, it is difficult for an outsider to tell who is singing on the stage right now and who is just posing.

There a lots of different gestures that need to be known to read the mood of the different roles. I just post two of them that seemed interesting to learn.

Mei Lanfang has influenced different female roles in the Beijing Opera as well as the colourful make-up. At his time on stage, female roles were performed by male actors.

This is him, practicing sword dance in his courtyard house in Beijing - that today is a museum (see previous post) and open to public.

The video shows him on stage performing a sword dance. I guess, it is him singing.

More info on the Mei Lanfang Website

Beijing Courtyard House: Mei Lanfang's Siheyuan

To me, the best in Beijing is Old Beijing that you can find in narrow hutong alleys. Most of the time you only get a tiny glimpse of how Chinese live in these old one storey grey brick stone houses. But there is one to visit!

I posted a while ago that I have visited Beijing Opera star Mei Lanfang's former residence, that is a museum, open to public since 1986. I want to give you more details today.

The courtyard is located in Huguosi Lu, a quiet lane in the Western District of Beijing.
A courtyard house has an atrium garden in the middle of the house as you can see from the two layouts, that I scanned from the beautiful book Chinese Houses.

My book shows pictures from the interior, but when you visit, you only can sneak a glance through the windows.

However you can learn more about Mei Lanfang (1894-1961). His biography is illustrated with pictures and you can see two traditional Chinese Opera costumes. There is also a TV that plays scenes from Chinese Opera featuring Mei Lanfang on stage. As the Opera Star also liked to paint and collect Chinese painting, his collection is on display as well.

It is a peaceful atmosphere and definitely worth a visit when you are interested in the traditional style of living in Beijing. For me, the hutong alleys and grey brick stone courtyards are the most authentic and charming part of old Beijing. It worth to stroll around or rent a bike to discover the real China in a city that is changing daily and transforming more and more to one of these modern international exchangeable cities.

This is a view from one room into the courtyard towards the entrance. It has been raining the day before and the whole night. The air was washed out and clean and so were the trees and everything else. The first sunshine tried to break through and the wind blowed some white blossoms from the tree on the ground.

In one of the corner courtyards I got this view through a typical Chinese round gate and took that picture of one of the 'Nine Million Bicycles in Beijing'.

Open Tue - Sun, April - November 9am - 4pm (10 RMB), 9 Huguosi Lu, Xicheng District, tel. 6618 0351

More info at Mei Lanfang Website

Picture source: all mine, except the layouts of the courtyard that are from Chinese Houses: The Architectural Heritage Of A Nation

Tuesday, 19 June 2007

Chinese Wallpaper

I discovered the beauty of Chinese wall'paper'. They are mostly hand painted on silk and very expensive. As the Chinese are good in copying everything, I went to the home decorating markets to look for the same beauty on normal paper for affordable prices. But I found only some less interesting prints on vinyl paper. So far. I still have that idea of having a room decorated in Chinese Style or a bathroom or guest toilet covered with Chinese Wallpaper.

Here are some pretty wall decorations - above and below hand painted on silk, available via Lehman & Qian in Shanghai and Karolina Lehman in Beijing.

The last three pictures I found via Wallpaper and digital murals on Flickr.

Sunday, 17 June 2007

Beijing Boys and Girls

I am sharing a snapshot form our today outing to DaShanzi 798 Art Center in Beijing. I like it: two Chinese girls with a bottle of Coke, a Disney bag and mobile phone... smiling at Western boys watching the girls go by... and waving!!! They said something in Chinese to the girls. I am not sure if it was polite, can't tell from the girl's face.

Actually, the boys are in PreK (kindergarten)...

Thursday, 14 June 2007


Click here to stick a pin to torture the Net Nanny Voodoo Doll

How can they dare to block FLICKR ?
I have been quiet all the time.
I am a guest here in China.
I am not criticizing much.
Blogger blocked or unblocked did not matter much to me. I always had access to my blog to be creative. And not having millions of Chinese readers did not matter to me.
Blocking Wikipedia did not bother me too much either. I can get info somewhere else.
But now I am affected, badly affected. I AM BLIND IN CHINA !
Flickr is blocked since June 7. I cannot upload or work with my pictures at flickr where I paid 25USD to have an extended account that is useless since ONE WEEK already. I feel blind ! I cannot see the lovely pictures form one of my favorite blogs, Decor8 as the pictures are posted directly from flickr.

For the first time, since two years in China, I feel my personal freedom restricted.

Cannot they just block these pictures from the Chinese users that uploaded unwanted pictures? Why everybody had to be affected? And on the other hand, if Chinese people want to protest against a Chemical Plant they should do it on their own sites. They are affecting millions of people that are not interested in some demonstrations in China. Why don't they email their pictures around to news stations outside the country? Why do they have to abuse Flickr with their political issues ?!
Am I an egoist?
Well, no, I feel punished for something I have not done!
This is not fair. Okay. That word might be not known in Chinese government.
Did I say too much?
I punched three needles in that little Voodoo doll that symbolizes the Chinese 'Net Nanny' that blocks diverse websites that the China government does not like.

More links at Danwei

Beijing: Another Painting from Creation Gallery

Lady and Cat Series 2007.5 by Zhang Yongping
Oil Painting on Canvas, 97x130cm
(about 3000 USD)

This is the other painting my husband preferred. He just likes modern oil or acrylic painting better than the traditional Chinese Paintings. Although the other two paintings I posted were not that traditional. I agree, the painting is beautiful and very calm. But I did not like the small heads of the women painted by female painter Zhang Yongping. Didn't Henry Moore made those kind of bronze statues?

Painting and photo source: Creation Gallery, Beijing

Thursday, 7 June 2007

Beijing: Cashmere Fashion by Walendy

Ira Walendy is a young fashion designer specialized in cashmere who has launched her own label 'Walendy' here in Beijing.

Ira is born in Germany and studied fashion design in Trier. She worked for international labels such as C&A, Esprit and Prada. In 2005, she has moved with her family, including her son, 8 and her daughter, 6 to Beijing. Since her arrival in China she searches all the markets back and forward week after week to find interesting material, pattern, borders and buttons to design clothes for her kids, husband and herself. Her kids basically do not know 'pret-a-porter' fashion except from their school uniforms. Everything they wear is a unicum designed by their creative mum.

She travels to the markets and tailors about two, three times a week to supervise the progress of her orders. Meanwhile fluent in Mandarin, she works close together with several small local knitting factories. Some of them are the same factories that deliver high quality material to well reputable European fashion brands such as 'Loro Piana" or 'Mulberry'.

End of 2006, Ira was ready to launch her first own label under her maiden name 'Walendy'. She offers custom made knitwear for the whole family: men's sweaters and shirts, ladies' jumpers / sweaters, cardigans, shirts and tops. But kids clothes are still her favorites. Her materials come in a wide range form light weight summer cashmere until eight threat yarn hand knitted winter cardigans with lots of precious details such as tonal embroideries or beautiful cable patterns.

She successfully presented her kid's cashmere collection to upper market children boutiques based in Dusseldorf and Munich, Germany, where they will be on sale this autumn.

Beijingers looking for some stylish, pretty neat knitwear can contact Ira by email to be included on her mailing list for her next 'Cashmere Party' at her home at Lanebridge. Her second party, presenting her summer Cashmere collection, just took place in May.

Ira is my friend since we first met in autumn 2005 at the Italian Embassy, where we both drop our kids on Saturdays for Italian school. I am very pleased and exited to introduce her on my blog today. We had lots of fun 'shooting' her collection at her house and garden. Actually Ira's private home was designed by the same interior designer who did the two 'Green T. House'. One more reason to visit Ira. Sign up here for her next info mail.

click for larger image
The pink cashmere 'cache coeur' starts from 590 RMB (about 65 USD) for children, but can be ordered in bigger sizes. The green cotton lady shirt costs 410 RMB (about 45 USD).

Remark: After the summer holidays will be the right time to place orders for Christmas!

Photos by -Suzie-

Monday, 4 June 2007

Chinese Medicine and its Healing Power

Since I am often suffering from allergy related cough, especially at night time (is it the contaminated toothpaste?), I went back to see my Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) Doctor. He said curing allergies is one of the easiest task in TCM. Once a week I get either acupuncture or cupping, accompanied with a gentle neck massage. Further, I am taking tiny white round pills in the morning and in the evening with warm water. But most efficient seems his advice to avoid cold food and drinks. Since I stopped eating ice cream or yogurt or drink cool drinks in the evenings, I have a better chance to sleep well. I will keep you posted about the allergy treatment as results take time.

The other thing I wanted to inform the world wide web about is the healing power of TCM with Parkinson's disease. Lately, I met this man in his 60ies at my TCM 'guru'. He is German and suffering from Parkinson's disease. He came to China to see this Chinese doctor. He got treatment every day for about three weeks. And he felt better! He got massage and acupuncture combined with special exercises and herbal medicine. He felt less stiff and had his extremities better under control. I really do not know anything about that disease (thank god) and how it is treated, but I was curious about the effect of his TCM treatment. So, I recently asked about his well-being after his return to Germany. Apparently the positive effect is still there but has slightly decreased. He still does his exercises and of course needs his western medicine as well. So I guess, Parkinson patients should get continuous TCM treatment. Which is difficult to find in the West as not many doctors are well-trained and seriously practicing TCM. Here in China you pay about 100 RMB (10 Euro, 12 USD) or less for one TCM session and depending on your medicine another 100 - 250 RMB for herbs that last up to two weeks.

And one more last report about the TCM healing Power. My son, almost 4 years, was suffering from frequent respiratory problems. He had already three lung infections (two had to be treated in hospital, one of them in China). In autumn and spring he was suffering from Croup cough (Pseudo-Krupp). He had almost every three weeks one attack. Bronchitis and asthma was often diagnosed. The TCM doctor I am seeing is not specialised in these kind of problems however once a week he works together with another TCM Professor. So I went seeing them with my son. The Professor looked at his tongue and knead his fingers. Then they discussed the findings and asked me questions. Only my doctor speaks English and translated for the Professor. I got a recipe for a herbal tea that included among other 'earth worms'. It smelled and tasted terrible. But luckily I got my son to drink it twice a day for two weeks. At the same time I stopped his cortisone treatment. The first think I discovered was his increasing appetite. Finally he would eat a good portion. I guess, all facts together improved his immune system. He was not sick for two months now. Knock, knock on wood. Saying this, things change, that is Murphy's law with kids. And actually he started coughing yesterday. But different from the other times his immune system seem to be able to battle the infection by itself.

Recently, I learned the following about that Chinese Professor. His grandfather was the doctor of the last Emperor of the Qing Dynasty. Wow! That connects my son with the last Chinese Emperor through two persons only! And it did magic.

Friday, 1 June 2007

Safer Food in China

China's former Head of the State Drug and Food Administration, Zheng Xiaoyu, was sentenced to death this week. He took bribe money from the pharma industry to approve untested medicines. In one case 10 people died from fake antibiotics.
This court decision and an announced food-recall campaign are the reactions of the government to the latest food and drug scandals including the fake baby powder milk (13 babies died), toothpaste and pet food (dogs and cats died in the U.S) mixed with industrial chemicals (melamine), the red dyed eggs, the green tainted fish, fish treated with antibiotics etc.

China's Health Ministry reported almost 34,000 food-related illnesses in 2005, with spoiled food accounting for the largest number.

I also red in the China Daily, that a third of China's 450,000 food production companies had no licenses. Also, 60 percent of the total did not conduct safety tests or have the capability to do so.

stall at San Yuan Li wet market in Sanlitun

I started to worry (again) about the quality of life in Beijing regarding the food you eat and the air you breath. Fish, duck and lamb is food to be avoided, according to my TCM doctor. I thought eating fish is something healthy. Probably not in China. (And probably not in many other Asian countries, e.g. prawns from Thailand).

The same day, I read in the newspaper, that Chinese chicken is banned in Europe since five years. Wow ! I was not aware of that. I remember in the beginning of the bird flue I refused every dish with chicken or eggs. This was some years ago. I somehow seem to have forgotten about that and had some chicken lately, although well cooked with spicy sauce. Maybe I should become vegetarian, at least while living in Asia. Especially since I heard yesterday another scary story. An Australian colleague who has lived happily with his wife for years in Jakarta, Indonesia and lately in Seoul, South Korea, has lost his wife. She died fast. From the beginning of her illness to her death it was only three months. They found out she died from the 'mad cow disease'. I was shocked, I new her personally, although briefly. She was so full of life. Apparently you can have this virus in you for maybe 10 years without knowing. In Asia, meat controls like we have them in Europe, do not exist and I doubt that any 'mad cow disease' case would be reported.

So, I better follow the Chinese doctors advise and skip fish, duck (better all poultry) and lamb. As I like my beef 'medium rare' or 'sagnant' I will skip beef too.

Wow. I do not know what to eat anymore. The veggies are treated with pesticides for sure. The water you wash it with, is not the cleanest I bet...

Best time to diet... Wait a moment. I have an idea. Chocolate sounds save! And Italian pasta with oil and parmesan cheese from Italy (import in our hand luggage).

Remark: Now the government is reacting. And the world is watching. I hope, they will take harsh and fast actions (beside killing one responsible). Maybe, we soon can be more comfortable about food in China. Hopefully.
Good night from Beijing.
- Suzie -

Photo: Vendor at Sanyuanli (San Yuan Li) Market in Beijing Sanlitun, copyright -Suzie-


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