Sunday, March 15, 2009

Andy Warhol in Taipei

Andy Warhol at the CKS

The latest 'hot' exhibition to visit in Taipei is th Andy Warhol retrospective at the Chiang Kai Shek Memorial Hall (at least, I think they changed the name back from 'Democracy Memorial Hall', when the DPP were pissing around with changing names of historical monuments). I suppose I am not the biggest fan on earth of Warhol, but I am happy enough to go along and check it out - especially since it was with a few arty friends who know a little more about the subject of screen printing and pop art.

What made me double-intrigued was the fact that it was being held underneath the mausoleum of said National Icon - and it could not escape my finely-honed sense of irony that one of the key exhibits was a print of his arch-nemesis, Mao Zedong.

Like all too many exhibitions in Taiwan, there were too many exhibits (walls and walls full of Marilyn, it seemed) and too many people shuffling around. The exhibition design was lacking, and the space was, in a word, 'poky' - although I can hardly blame this on them - if you plan to have an exhibition under a tomb you ain't going to argue about space. The shop did seem, however, to deliver on the 'commercial art' promise of Warhol, and was thus packed with people buying tat pasted with Warhol signatures.

Or maybe I was just hung over. Anyway - a fun day out. By starting at Chiang Kai Shek and ending up at Ximen, I really did feel like I was in a foreign country for the first time in a little while.

Seeing the dancers practicing in the windows reminded me of trips there when I first arrived. The photo I took that day of the kids throwing one of their friends in the air is still one of my favourite shots.

Friends jacking around

I probably take the same photo every time, but it still makes me chuckle.

Impressive doors, and brass nobs.

Labels: , , ,

Friday, January 05, 2007

Carsten Höller - Tate 2006


Every time I go it just manages to blow me away with its scale and scope, and yet with its openness and refreshing lack of hautiness so common in modern art galleries.

I love seeing the tourists' faces when they come upon the Turbine Hall. No doubt, they have been dragging their families from tour to museum to exhibition and you can imaging the kids whinging that they would really rather be having a Happy Meal thankyou very much. But that is all forgotten, and as the American art students studiously take notes, Grannies strain their necks and bepolonecked German art critics reflect, a dozen kids whizz around the exhibition imagining they are space fighters. This has happened three times in as many years (before with Anish Kapoor and Rachel Whitbread), and it is a credit to the curators that they can draw in such disperate groups.

This time though. This time. Wow. Never have I been challenged with such a physical, kinetic assault that at the same time piqued my engineering, art and whizz bang kiddo sensibilities. Forget all that - I WANT TO GO AGAIN!

For Carsten Höller, the experience of sliding is best summed up in a phrase by the French writer Roger Caillois as a 'voluptuous panic upon an otherwise lucid mind'. The slides are impressive sculptures in their own right, and you don't have to hurtle down them to appreciate this artwork. What interests Höller, however, is both the visual spectacle of watching people sliding and the 'inner spectacle' experienced by the sliders themselves, the state of simultaneous delight and anxiety that you enter as you descend.

One thing I love - it's free entry and the dryest route between the South Bank and the St. 'Blade of Light' Pauls Bridge ... take 2 minutes or 2 days, as you please


It is quite popular - the image of kids egging their Mums on to the slide, and then the shrill scream of fear and joy as they hurtle down the tube was very amusing ... almost as amusing was to sit near the bottom and watch people land, their faces lit up, before they allowed themselves to compose themselves once more as they walk away.

Labels: , , ,

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Chinese Economics

Today was the first day off I had in a week and a half, so I planned to get up, head to the train station and go and find my self of ‘real’ China.

Unfortunately, that plan was dashed by the cleaning lady at my door this morning, indicating I had slept through my alarm by two hours. I made it to the station, bought a ticket to Suzhou, but realised that it was too late to make good use of the day. As a result, I took the opportunity to see a little of Shanghai in the day time and it certainly delivered.

I have to say, this is a town to live in, not to visit. The Bund is marvellous and there are a few other interesting places to go, but it does not have the tourist attraction of Beijing. I went to check out the YeYuen gardens – the old town – and it was very nice but absolutely packed with yellow-hatted Chinese tourists following their respective yellow flags. Package tours take on a new meaning with the Chinese, and I would not be surprised to see more of these headpieces in Europe as their gather more disposable income.

I had some rather forced conversations with Chinese clearly wanting to sell me something under the pretence of learning English – a ruse I got extremely tired of. The pinnacle came when my will broke and accompanied a pair of Chinese students to a café bar for a coffee. My treat, and I didn’t really mind. I was rather shocked to find they had ordered half the menu and the most expensive Whiskeys on the menu! My heart both dropping and pounding in rage, I had to control myself, pay the bill and get the hell out. I raised a stink but this was clearly not a good idea in the particular location I had chosen. You know, I have traversed Mexico and Central America, Thailand and Taiwan, and I have maintained my street wise all the way. I have never been ripped off by more than is reasonable. But today I lost out on about 100 bloody quid, but I feel like it was a very cheap way to learn a very expensive lesson. Folk lore suggests people coming here, setting up businesses and having the investments pulled out underneath them. So. Lesson learnt. Wounds licked. And a more circumspect approach to the city of sin.

That feels better now! Now I prepare to head out one last time to meet Henry from my High School. Amazing to see him and my oldest friend in Asia. At the same time, I have lost out by days once again as my friend Gerhard (previously of Panasonic in Japan, and hailing from Germania – where else?) arrives to set up a design company on Monday (!) and Anke & Lars move their life here via India on Thursday. It seems like a bit of a German conspiracy, what with missing out on Michael & Tanja’s farewell bash last weekend!

Shower and change. A wiser man steps out into the night.

Bamboo sticks out into the street, providing drying space for clothes. Just thread them on and poke 'em out!

The pond at YuYuen gardens - the 'Old City'

A door

A phone recharging machine on Nanjing Street. Maybe I am the only one that found it interesting.

The animation exhibition in MOCA - The Museum of Contemporary Art - in People's Square.

Spinning LED installation - quite cool - reminded me of a guy from my old time at ideo in London

Bruce Lee Fried Chicken. I'm Not Joking. Actually they take his Chinese name 'Lee Xiao Long', or 'Little Dragon' Lee

Labels: , , ,