More China Chic

Chinese contemporary art watch

 

Noted: Swatch, the funky (overpriced?) watch chain just hit me with this ad for their newest design. It’s called “New Gent Majestic Bird,” issued in a limited edition of 1,888 pieces (lucky 8s?).

The artists behind it are Ji Weiyu and Song Tao, a duo of photographers who call themselves Birdhead. According to Asiarctic, a website about contemporary art in Asia, they’re 33 years old, Shanghai-born and based, and concern themselves with the city, the urban environment.

“The design arises from Birdhead’s ongoing preoccupation with the medium of photography and the various ways in which photographic processes can explore and document the passing of time,” according to Swatch’s promotion.

 

Contermporary Art

The 798 Art District is no longer cutting-edge, but still, it’s a glimpse into Beijing’s world-class art scene. I saw both documentary frankness and irony; a multi-pronged social critique. One show depicted a warehouse full of headshots of a sex worker, taken every few minutes all day. There are tons of Mao quotations for sale (on posters, shirts, bags, mousepads). I’m told this is nostalgia (hard for outsiders to understand) along with the irony we get immediately.

“Being a man of ‘noble-minded and pure, a man of moral integrity and above vulgar interests, and a man who is of value to the people.’ ” As a China scholar said during my orientation — Mao didn’t send his son to Harvard Business School, but to die on a battlefield in N. Korea. There’s a KFC logo shirt rendered PRC (People’s Republic of China) with Mao as the Colonel. We liked Chairman Meow, where Mao is a cat.