editors note We approached our June/July issue of PULP with a theme… Rainbows! With Pride Shanghai happening in June, and Rainbow Danger Club performing for the last time, we’ve managed, pretty successfully we think, to crowbar as much as we can under this colourful umbrella. We’re proud of Pride Shanghai. It’s an event that faces certain difficulties around the world, but more so here in China where there are constant roadblocks slowing down and often completely halting proceedings. Despite these hurdles, and the frustrating bureaucracy of officials, the organizers come back year after year to make this Shanghai event a very special one. June also saw the last ever Rainbow Danger Club gig. Yes, the band are going their separate ways and their farewell performance is at Yuyintang on 22nd June is sure to leave us with some great lasting memories of a bloody good Shanghai band. Check out page 5 for the life and times of RDC. Desperately clinging on to our rainbow theme, isn’t Andy Warhol a colourful chap?! ‘15 Minutes Eternal’, the biggest Warhol exhibition ever in Asia, is packing a punch in the art world until 28th July at the Power Station of Art, so we got over there for a chat with the Assistant CuraManaging Editor: Magazine Editor: Graphic Designer: Contributors:
tor to get her take on things. We also caught up with another, very different Andy. Skate legend Andy MacDonald has been smashing competitions in Shanghai for years. In this issue he gives us insight into his record-breaking exploits so far, his thoughts on the future of the skate scene in China, and how he found the gold at the end of the rainbow. Boom! You’ve been themed!
APRIL 29 - JULY 28 MAY 25 - JULY 19 MAY 20 - JUNE 30 MAY 25 - JULY 28 JUNE 1 - JULY 28
Pete Jackson Anna Bennett Mark O’Gorman Arvin Mahanta, Alex Luo, Peter Dixon, Zack Smith, Tom H
JUNE 15 JUNE 21 JUNE 22 JUNE 25 JULY 1
15 Minutes Eternal: Andy Warhol @ Power Station of Art Let It Be @ OFOTO Gallery Crush Me: Entang Wiharso @ Pearl Lam Gallery Truth, Beauty, Freedom and Money @ K11 Artspace The Storyteller @ Long Museum Wordysoulspeak @ Arkham Chick Corea @ Shanghai Center Theater Rainbow Danger Club @ Yuyintang Chaimi + Thruoutin AV Set @ 696 Livehouse Funky Sueyoshi @ Yuyintang
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URBAN ago are standard these days. When Tom was born, people in skateboarding were already doing 900s, so to him a 1080 is like “What? it’s only another 180 degrees.”
air time: andy macdonald peter dixon
THE KIA WORLD EXTREME GAMES came to Shanghai in the beginning of June and we were lucky enough to grab an interview with Andy MacDonald to chat about his career and the future of skateboarding in China. For our full interview head to SHANGHAI247.NET/pulp You’ve had a pretty awesome career so far. You’ve skated in the White House, won a truckload of awards and designed an extreme pogo stick… Is there a career highlight that stands out for you? Doing the first ever big air jump was pretty special for me because it gave birth to a whole new discipline in our sport. From the very first time I jumped fifty feet I knew some serious stuff was going to be possible with all that additional air time. No skater had ever been in the air for so long. Now here we are fourteen years later and Jake Brown just put down the first ever ollie 720. Amazing! Shanghai has been pretty good to SHANGHAI247.NET
you in the past, with five gold medals in the vert competition. Do you have any special memories of your visits? I’ve always enjoyed my time in Shanghai and look forward to coming back every year. The people are very friendly and have a genuine appreciation for skateboarding. My first couple of years over here stand out because of the big sessions and BBQ’s we’d do post contest over at the SMP park. Tom Schaar landed the first ever 1080 at twelve years old. Once someone’s nailed one of those do you start thinking, ‘where do we go from here’? It’s just progression. Tricks that were stand-outs five or ten years
Have you had a chance to check out any skate spots in Shanghai? or has it been a case of arrive, skate the competition and then leave? I’ve skated lots of spots from secret indoor mini ramps to a street course on top of a mall. But the SMP park is far and away the stand-out. Just the size of the place makes it worth going to check out. I’ve never been so scared on the first roll-in as I was the first time I rolled-in to the full pipe capsule at SMP. So fun! Skateboarding in China is becoming increasingly popular. Is the skate scene here something that is being recognized in the West? In the West skateboarding is so popular that it has been pretty much outlawed unless it’s in a designated skatepark. China still has vast uncharted territories and huge cities that haven’t yet started chasing skaters out or adding ‘skate stoppers’ to their architecture. I think skaters in the West will be traveling to China for years to come and the scene in China is only going to continue to grow.
RAINBOW DANGER CLUB : WE HARDLY KNEW YE Learning how to say goodbye in Shanghai zack smith [PHOTOS BY ENGLESIA LEGGETT] Staring at a blank screen, trying to write about the end of a band to which you don’t want to say goodbye is agonizing. This is a feature I didn’t want to have to write. However, we soldier on, buoyed by our memories. If you live long enough in Shanghai, a waystation for burning personalities, you eventually learn how to gracefully say, ‘Farewell.’ At Rainbow Danger Club’s final show as a full unit, June 1st at Yuyintang, it was clear that the band learned those lessons well. I have seen countless RDC shows. I have covered them almost since their inception for a variety of platforms (some of them now defunct). I think I even once likened their drummer’s visage to that of a beaver (sorry about that, Ford.) The band took part in two album release shows for my own bands, landmark occasions in the last ten years of my life, and bassist Dennis Ming Nichols had a big hand in bringing one of those albums to life. I also recently listened to their new album, Souvenirs, about fifty times in two days and reviewed it for Shanghai 247. So you could say I am fairly familiar with the band. All of these previous experiences and more led up to a pretty epic show on Saturday night. We’ll talk about that soon. That’s the end, but I don’t want to get into that right now. Let’s start from the beginning.
According to guitarist and lead singer Jesse Munson, who I interviewed at length for this piece, the band all worked at a Shanghai high school in the international division. Munson claims that he had to beg drummer Mike Ford and bassist Nichols to be in a band with him. Munson had been playing around with a variety of Shanghai musicians, a weird list that includes Sonnet and Top Floor Circus, but none of those fit right. He also had his own band called The Living Thin, who played four shows, all in venues that are now no more. After successfully convincing Ford and Nichols to join him, the next challenge was to codify the band’s direction. They jammed together, casting about for an identity. “Every weekend you try something different and you see what works out. What turned out to work was sort of the direction of my old band, which is melodic, dramatic stuff that has a fantasy bent. That ended up sticking.”
So they went in that direction, eventually incorporating Mike Corayer into the fold on trumpet, synths, and percussion. Thinking back to early shows I saw them play, I realize their persona then was quite different from what it is today. They had a floor tom at the front of the stage that Nichols, Corayer, and Munson would take turns to bang on with drumsticks and bows. They also banged those sticks and bows against their guitar strings, creating a jarring noise. Nichols would scream into the mic through a megaphone on a certain song and dislocate his jaw like a python; he got so into the lyrics. I guess at that time, you could have considered them a gimmicky band, although you could tell that something more was there. They eventually started phasing out those older songs and moved into even stranger territory. Rainbow Danger Club songs are perpetual works in progress. Some of the songs you can now hear on Souvenirs are older than the band itself. For example, ‘The Country Way’ was partially written by one of Munson’s friends in a band they had in America called The Adventure Package. According to Munson, the Rainbow Danger Club cosmology is fed by essential questions like: “’Can there be excitement without fear?’ or ‘Can there be adventure without danger?’ or ‘Can there be fantasy without self-loathing?’” These are the questions that drive us to quest, seeking new lands, but they are the same questions that send us on the long odyssey back home. In their view, “Where Maps End is the ‘Away’. Souvenirs is the ‘Home’. [Neither] is a prequel or a sequel. It’s a circle.” That’s how life is, isn’t it? You’re either yearning to travel or aching to return home. You’re out on the road, stuck in the abode, or somewhere in between. Rainbow Danger Club ingeniously conveys these themes using motifs, coordinates that correspond to points on a secret treasure map scribbled in invisible ink on the back of a jaundiced score to a long-forgotten silent film. They’re hiding right there in plain sight. I could tell you the connections I have unearthed, but that would spoil the hunt for you. SHANGHAI247.NET
MUSIC Says Munson, “There is a spectrum of life and you want to hit all points on that spectrum. The best albums exist on all of those wavelengths... It’s a little bit disappointing when you don’t see bands that aspire to world creation. I always like it when an album can put me in a world. When I’m sitting alone with an instrument I’ve always been interested in making something grand. I think you have to ask yourself the honest question: ‘What can I bring into the world that other people aren’t?’” The instrumental partnership has been between Munson and Nichols. It’s your classic yin-yang arrangement. Munson is the shuttered composer who loves nothing more than to camp in his apartment, trying to craft the perfect song. Of acoustic guitar playing, Munson admits, “I’ve always found it such a comforting place because there are rules. Danger Club songs are full of rules and extrapolations of chord families and melodic movements, according to keys. I’ve found beauty in structures like that.” Luckily, Nichols, an incandescent musician in his own right, is a vivacious guy who convinces him to let the world hear those songs; whether it’s arranging them perfectly, booking shows to play them live, or making sure they get recorded well. The relationship doesn’t work seamlessly, but it produces amazing results; sort of like a weathered old steampunk submarine that ended up plumbing the uncharted depths of the Marianas Trench. If all maps end, so must all great bands, which brings us back to the present day or, at least, the recent past and the near future. June 1st marked
the release date of Souvenirs, as well as Rainbow Danger Club’s last show with drummer Mike Ford. Fittingly, it was at Yuyintang, the cradle of Shanghai’s live music scene, the place where almost everyone in attendance had come together many times before to enjoy a Rainbow Danger Club performance. It was like the meeting of a very happy secret society. If it sounds clichéd to call an event bittersweet, that doesn’t matter right now, because an occasion like this was why the term was coined in the first place. Everywhere you looked, you saw people sighing, alternately because of the beauty of the music and because they had just realized this was the last time something like this would happen. The acoustic performance that kicked off the show was nearly flawless, a true realization of the Rainbow Danger Club potential. The second (electric) act hit all the right beats from the back catalogue, featured a guest appearance by Nichols’s dad on blues vocals, and spawned four encores, including two Neutral Milk Hotel covers. And then it was all over. I was melancholy about this for a while, but then I realized that the band, in releasing Souvenirs, had given us a way out of the doldrums. I flashed back to something Jesse Munson had said in our conversation. “Souvenirs are the things you take home. And when we leave Shanghai, it’s something we’re taking too. It’s a thing that you use to remember when it’s all over.” And so in the end, a beginning in itself, the great Shanghai band Rainbow Danger Club found their graceful exit point, the portal to other places, where some maps terminate and others commence, but you always have something to remember the journey by.
Shabazz Palaces: help! I’m stuck in a contextual vacuum!
IT’S PROBABLY FAIR to say that many musicians see themselves as storytellers; their music a vehicle for relating their personal experiences. Often, we music writers find ourselves looking for the bonus content, the complete context that gives extra sense to the story. However, Ishmael Butler, of alt hip-hop duo Shabazz Palaces, rejects this notion entirely. It’s perplexing, perhaps, but for him it’s liberating and necessary. “I think that after the artist has had his say, if there’s going to be some critical discourse or observation of it, then it’s all incumbent upon the person doing it. I don’t think you should go back to the artist and say ‘Hey what’s A B C?’ The artist that participates in that is basically selling out, because it’s pretty much primarily a marketing thing - ‘We’re trying to sell this so we’re trying to build momentum around the story, to get this in people’s minds,’ it’s all advertising, psychology - and we just didn’t do it.” This was the sentiment that led Shabazz Palaces to release their initial recordings with no accom-
panying information. Who they were, who the other musicians on the records were, where and when the songs were recorded, were all unknown. The EP’s were released in a contextual vacuum, but all the better to hear the music, Butler argues. (Yes, we know sound doesn’t travel in a vacuum but that’s our metaphor dammit!) This encouragement to break free from context is refreshing in some ways. So often it seems that we can’t enjoy music without the context - that it needs to be listened to with reference to the artist’s previous work and knowledge of their whole careers, to be appreciated fully. Being told the complete opposite comes as a relief of sorts. ‘To say that we withheld information is actually false…the 247tickets.cn
MUSIC only information that’s relevant is the music. Convention is just one way of doing things, and to accept convention as the way that it’s supposed to be when you’re perceiving a piece of art is limiting everything; you, the piece, the whole experience. So we just reject that notion.” No longer so anonymous, Shabazz Palaces continue to produce music that sounds like nothing else, melding deep electronics with the full arsenal of instrumental talent that Tendai Maraire brings to bear. Their lyrics are poetic and mystical in the extreme. Fans and critics puzzle at length over the meanings, with predictably little explanation to be found. Shabazz Palaces have found themselves well outside the mainstream of hip-hop. They are the first hip-hop group to be signed to Sub Pop records, the label that “destroyed the morals of a generation” with Nirvana and grunge; and they embrace all the disjuncture that this brings. “Any consumer society is gonna try to make you feel like your expression is in some category or another, and then they fill that category with products for you to buy. I guess if somebody hears our music and thinks ‘Hey, I don’t usually like that category, but I do now’, hopefully it’s like “Hey, there are no fucking categories!” Butler found fame initially as a ‘Butterfly,’ a member of the
pioneering rap group Digable Planets, who created deliciously jazzy hip-hop in the early 90’s that often had a radical left-leaning bent. He’s pessimistic about the current state of hip-hop. “A lot of people who make rap music, I wouldn’t even say they were really music lovers or word lovers, you know, they’re just people that might wanna get famous or might wanna have chicks. That’s really the tragedy that’s produced by hip-hop life because it’s an awesome game lifestyle. It’s awesome in reality too, so I think that’s seducing a lot of people. But, you know, it is what it is.” But to look too deeply for elements of the Planets in the Palaces would again fall into the trap of looking for the story, not the music. “[Digable Planets] informs [what I’m doing now] on a cellular level, a cosmic level, flowing in my blood. It’s subconscious… but a lot of times the subconscious stuff is stronger than the conscious stuff, so who knows really. Again, I think that maybe an observer could be more keen at getting out the related links than me because I don’t give a shit, you know?” Head down to Yuyintang on June 28th with a wide open mind to check them out.
Tendai Maraire [LEFT] Ishmael Butler [RIGHT]
pride SHANGHAI 2013 MEET THE ORGANIZERS alex luo
PRIDE SHANGHAI is kicking off on June 15th, and this year’s a big one as it’s Pride’s five-year anniversary. We spoke to organizers Guillermo Garcia, who is from Mexico and has been volunteering for Pride for all five years, and Ben Yu, who is from Shanghai and has been a Pride volunteer for two years. How did you get started with Pride? Guillermo: I volunteered with the first Shanghai Pride, when there were maybe 150 people at the opening party, and the
third year I became an organizer. I thought ‘China has given me so much, what can I give back?’ If I was doing this in Mexico, I’d be one among a million. But being in Shanghai makes it a little bit special. Ben: I used to be very big,
more than 250 pounds, and that made me really shy when it came to talking to people. After I lost weight I wanted to make more friends and found Shanghai Pride. Our first meeting was at Studio, and I was really scared because it’s a crazy club! This year I’m the Volunteer Manager and I like seeing the volunteers get excited the same way I was. How has Pride changed since its start? Guillermo: From the first Pride five years ago to now each opening and closing party keeps growing by 200 people – we hope this year will reach a thousand people! Also, this year is the first time we’re having the meetings mostly in Chinese with Chinese organizers. Ben: Now Shanghai Pride is a Pride for Shanghai! Most Chinese people aren’t big partiers so before they would only attend the discussions and film nights, but now more Chinese LGBT people are willing to come. And this year we had 150 volunteer applications – a big change from last year.
URBAN Have you seen public opinion towards Pride and the LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender) community change over the years? Guillermo: It’s ‘man man lai’, little by little... but I do think that China is much more open than many people outside of China would assume. Ben: I’ve been in the LGBT community for one year, and previously I thought people were reluctant to say the word ‘gay’ – in many inner places in China [China’s rural heartlands] people don’t even know it – but now people actually say the word. Compared to many people I’m lucky, because for Chinese people family is important and parents sometimes push their children to be in fake marriages. Sometimes if people know their child is gay or lesbian it becomes a scandal, because it means ‘I’ve lost face.’ I came out to my father last November, and it impressed me because he said it was ok to be who I am. However, I have a typical Shanghainese mother who is particular about ‘saving face’, so at first she wouldn’t say ‘My son is gay.’ I have to pick and
choose who to come out to, because discrimination in the workplace is especially strong. Some of my co-workers understood when I came out because they’re young and female, but I couldn’t tell the truth to someone like my elder boss. I work in a university, and in Chinese culture, teachers are meant to be be conservative and ‘moral’. However, I think the younger generation can show who we are.
concerned we were going to show a radical film, but of course it was just a gay romance. Now we don’t release venue names until right before the events. Ben: I’ve seen LGBT events for other NGOs shut down by the local government, although I haven’t seen this happen at Pride. Lots of local people want a Pride parade, but it’s forbidden by law and we might get arrested if we tried without being approved, so we want to make our community better in a safe way.
What are the challenges of organizing Shanghai Pride? Guillermo: First and foremost, lack of funds, because we are run entirely by volunteers. The first few years I was concerned about official authorities and censorship, but to be honest I’m not concerned
What do you think about the LGBT scene in general over here? Guillermo: I think that in general it’s good. For instance, on a Saturday you can decide whether you want to go to Obama, or Studio, or Angel, or 390 – most cities [in Asia] don’t have more than one
“NOW SHANGHAI PRIDE IS A PRIDE FOR SHANGHAI!” anymore. Of course, we don’t go looking for conflict. The only problem we’ve had was at our first Pride when the police told us we couldn’t do a movie screening for license reasons. I think they were
to choose from. Sometimes language is a barrier between locals and expats, but it’s improving. Ben: The good thing is
page 11 that the general environment has become more open. The challenge is that within our LGBT community, traditional ideas are still strong and there are a lot of inner debates. We’ll debate whether we should be out and proud or whether we should hide ourselves. People have different ideas about making marriage equality happen or keeping open relationships.
URBAN Favorite event at Pride? Guillermo: The opening party and Pride Run. Ben: The closing party and picnic.
Finally, favorite Shanghai gay club? Guillermo: Studio. It’s got the most personality to it. Ben: 390. It’s a little smaller and it’s easy to chat with friends there.
Previous Page: Ben Yu Above: Guillermo Garcia Left: Pride Volunteers
Released on triple vinyl and digitally on Weme records, his latest album Cro Magnox has a mature elegance and moodiness which seems quite a departure from his previous releases. But if you take the time to have a look at the album artwork, his old sensibilities are clearly evident. This record swerves between dark acid, bleep house, heavenly half-step arpeggios and good solid techno, all conducted by a real master of his machines. It sees Ceephax maturing into a sound which is still propulsive, but instead of owing such a clear debt to the Chicago acid house sound as in the past, here he relies more on soundtrack-esque synth textures and cool, ominous grooves, showing clear influences from the likes of John Carpenter and Giorgio Moroder, but filtered through the pacey cosmic disco of Lindstrom and the crisp modern acidtronica of EOD. The beats are still pretty fast
A PROLIFIC PRODUCER of everything from acid techno to jungle, Ceephax Acid Crew, (AKA Andy Jenkinson) creates the ultimate live show, making use of only his trusty collection of Roland synths and drum machines. His first records were released on DMX Krew’s Breakin’ Records in 1998, and in the subsequent years he has gone on to produce more weird and wonderful music for various labels, including Aphex Twin’s Rephlex Records, and more recently on Planet Mu. He returns to Shanghai this month having blown the Shelter to pieces just over a year ago with a blend of his own twisted analogue creations, along with loads more housey, dance floor-friendly tracks.
TRIPPING BALLS WITH CEEPHAX ACID CREW
most of the time, but melodically there’s plenty of breathing room. This broader approach should come as no surprise however, as Andy’s music has never been limited to the world of acid; he has traveled from electro to jungle, breakcore and all the way back, leaving space for a few ambient interludes in-between. It seems that making electronic music that’s difficult to categorise runs in the family - Andy’s
brother Tom is better known as boundary-breaking experimental musician Squarepusher. “Well it’s good, because Tom is a great inspiration,” he says. “I suppose a con might be that it’s possibly harder to establish myself as a separate entity, but then again I’m not gonna complain about being associated with Squarepusher, because he’s one of my favourite musicians out there. If it was someone awful it would be pretty weird.” Well known for the fact that he always brings his complete studio to his live gigs wherever he goes, Ceephax Acid Crew creates an analogue acid party making use of a battery of classic Roland synths and drum machines - a spectacle to be sure. “It’s a mix between planned tracks and improvisation. Every set is different and so is every audience; the good thing about having all the hardware is you can change everything to suit each gig.” “Have I ever lost it? Yeah lots of times! Sometimes something goes silent and you don’t know why. Sometimes something turns itself off and you SHANGHAI247.NET
can’t get it back. At these moments it’s wise to put a CD on for a few minutes, and do some on the spot troubleshooting.” And having released music independently, as well as through many well respected labels, we wondered, does one or the other change the way Andy thinks about making music? “Labels have their outlook, which changes the tracks that get chosen. I don’t think it would or could ever change the way I write music, because I just sit down and start making something. After it’s finished, I might think ‘this would go nicely on a tape on my label, or my new album on Planet Mu, or an EP for 030303 etc.’ but I would never tailor my output to suit a label.” Ceephax Acid Crew returns to the Shelter with VOID, Saturday 22nd June.
andy warhol: king of pop
arvin mahanta “IN THE FUTURE, everyone will be famous for 15 minutes,” Andy Warhol once famously quipped. This statement is strangely prophetic: today’s obsession with fame, and the often fleeting nature of celebrity in the world of gossip magazines, reality TV and YouTube, have indeed fulfilled Warhol’s prediction. However, more interesting is the fact that Warhol not only anticipated all this, but through his work, he became the architect of this new world. “For many people Andy Warhol means the Marilyn portrait and the Campbells soup cans,” considers Ma Li, Assistant Curator at the Power Station of Art, which is hosting the ’15 Minutes Eternal’ exhibition of Warhol’s works. The largest ever Warhol exhibition to be shown in Asia, ’15 Minutes Eternal’ is this summer’s must-see art event in Shanghai. “The point of this exhibition is to show the richness and diversity of his oeuvre. A lot of his most famous works, the silver screen prints of celebrities for instance, were done so that he could finance some of his more experimental projects,’ she continues. “For me, his less commercial projects are often more interesting, and important.” The exhibition is hugely ambitious in scope. Organized chronologically, it follows Warhol’s career from his work as a commercial illustrator in 1950s New York, through his revolutionary silver screen prints of the early sixties, and on to his forays into SHANGHAI247.NET
film, fashion, music, television and printed media. However, the most interesting narrative in the exhibition is the transformation of Warhol himself, from awkward, eccentric young man trying to make his way in the Big Apple, to self-styled celebrity and darling of the Pop Art Movement, and finally to the shrewd businessman who infamously proclaimed that “Making money is art… and good business is the best art.” Warhol was a master of reinvention, his expertise in branding and marketing extended beyond his work, to his own persona. Indeed, it has been said by some that Warhol’s greatest work of art was himself. He courted publicity and harnessed his celebrity in ways no artist has done before or since. For this reason, he is admired and vilified in equal measure, his negation of the artist from the practical aspect of the artistic process leading to him being considered a fraud in some circles. He famously named his studio ‘The Factory’ to emphasise the efficient, mechanical nature of his craft, and often had no hand in the creation of his works beyond the original concept. “Warhol remains a complex and often misunderstood persona twenty five years after his death,” remarks Eric Shiner, Director of the Warhol Museum in Pittsburg. Whilst this is undoubtedly true, there is no denying that, like any great artist, Warhol was able to take what he 247tickets.cn
PAGE 15 saw around him, and transform it into something visionary. What surrounded him in 1960s boomtime New York was the consumer revolution, the proliferation of mass produced goods, glossy commercials and pop culture. His first response to this, his ‘Coca Cola’ series, was a game changer. Warhol was fascinated by the democratising potential of mass culture, the fact that no matter what their social standing, anybody has access to a bottle of coke, and no matter how wealthy someone is, they can never have a better one. Thus, Warhol prints the image of the Coke bottle on canvas, and presents it as art. In doing so he was not merely commenting on mass culture; his works
art the lens strips back the sitter’s pretence, to reveal their hidden character. “These films are really interesting for me” says Ma Li. “Whenever someone appears in front of camera, there is always something quite contrived about it. If someone knows they are being filmed, they project themselves in a certain way. These days, with Facebook, Instagram and all these other things, everyone is branding themselves. Warhol’s film projects anticipate this phenomenon.”
“These days, with Facebook, Instagram and all these other things, everyone is branding themselves. Warhol’s film projects anticipate this phenomenon.” questioned the very idea of what constitutes a work of art. As Arthur Danto once put it, this appropriation of the mass produced commodity as art amounted to a form of transfiguration, forcing the viewer to think about art in a way they had never done before. It took the art world by storm. Warhol’s ability to upend the order of things was not merely limited to painting. His early films re-evaluate the traditional idea of the portrait. Warhol placed the lens in front of people and challenged them to ‘act normally’. As the minutes tick by, SHANGHAI247.NET
Other highlights of the exhibition include some of Warhol’s early work as an illustrator, where you can see his prodigal talent for branding and marketing develop. The iconic celebrity portraits and soup can series draw the biggest crowds, and are worth a look for their own sake. Works from the haunting ‘Death and Disaster’ series are also here, in which Warhol reflects on the onset of the information age, of 24-hour news, of the society of spectacle where images of death and disaster are unrelentingly transmitted into our consciousness. Perhaps most interesting of all are the contents of some of Warhol’s ‘Time Capsules’: collections of miscellaneous objects which Warhol had compiled throughout his life. Amazingly, this plethora of material and visual culture on display is just the tip of the iceberg; according to Nicholas Chambers, Curator of the Warhol Museum, there are 612 of 247tickets.cn
art these time capsules, containing magazines, photographs, source materials and countless other ephemera, creating a priceless picture of the artists life and times, and giving a unique glimpse of Andy Warhol the person, rather than the abstraction. Conspicuous by their absence are Warhol’s iconic Mao portraits, which were considered too risqué to be shown on the mainland. Much has been made of this omission, but when faced with such variety and quality elsewhere in this exhibition, it seems quite pedantic to complain that such an obvious call was made. “For me, Warhol is the most important artist of the twentieth century, perhaps in the entire history of art,” Ma Li declares. “In the twentieth century, only Warhol and Duchamp were able to completely change the rules in terms of our perception of art.” It is a somewhat depressing thought that half a century after his soup cans caused a scandal in the New York art scene, contemporary art still exists very much in Warhol’s shadow. No artist
since has been able to decisively move beyond the themes and ideas that Warhol explored. The importance of Warhol’s work is not limited to art. His ‘Interview’ magazine was hugely influential in the realm of fashion and media, whilst his musical projects, notably his management of the Velvet Underground and influence on David Bowie, were instrumental in the creation of the pop star as a persona, rather than purely a musician. So for better or worse, modern music also owes him a significant debt. It is clear by the success of this exhibition that Warhol remains a hugely popular figure. Perhaps more importantly, with the forces of capitalism, consumerism, mass culture and social media moving through China at break-neck speed, Warhol’s works have more to say to the people of Shanghai now than they ever have before.
Ram: FROM gesture TO language
ROCKBUND ART MUSEUM is currently hosting ‘From Gesture to Language.’ This highly anticipated show breaks down the frontiers of language and culture, challenging the viewer to reflect on the role of text and image in shaping our collective consciousness. The exhibition is organized in an unorthodox fashion, and perhaps the most exciting aspect of this is the imaginative use of anachronism; creating juxtapositions between works across cultural, temporal and geographical boundaries. SHANGHAI247.NET
This is most apparent in the 18th century works by the French royal engravers, produced on the orders of the Qianlong Emperor, and based on sketches that were produced in his court by Jesuit missionaries, then transported to Europe. The prints depict various battles involving the Emperor’s army, and it is fascinating to see the subtle differences in stylistic emphasis between the Chinese and European versions of the same scene, whilst contemplating the vast geographic and cultural distances bridged in the work’s creation. This use of anachronism, emphasizing transition and translation, is essential to the exhibition’s theme. Larys Frogier, Director of the RAM, describes the exhibition as a montage that aims to explore ‘combinations, passages, and transitions between different practices and periods.’ “When you consider the topic of language, it is really about an endless process of reinvention and translation: words and images never have fixed definitions but the most exciting and open meanings they convey are based on the articulation you create between different paradoxical words, between opposite pictures.” The centerpiece of the exhibition is Xu Bing’s monumental ‘Magic Carpet’. Xu is well known for his experimentations with literary signifiers. His 1988 masterpiece ‘A Book of the Sky’ featured a lexicon of thousands of fabricated characters that teetered on the edge of legibility, but were ultimately devoid of meaning. SHANGHAI247.NET
‘Magic Carpet’ revisits this theme, but this time Xu combines the Roman alphabet with the aesthetic of Chinese characters, to create a poem in the form of a ‘magic square’ that can be read in numerous directions. It is a brilliantly conceived piece, and epitomizes the spirit of the exhibition in that it seeks to draw a connection between the visual and the textual. Further juxtaposition is created through the variety of different media on display. For example, the intensity of Bruce Nauman’s ‘Good Boy, Bad Boy’ video installation is contrasted with the accuracy and technical skill of Liu Dan’s photorealistic rendering of a Chinese-English dictionary. “(Utilizing different media) was a very clear choice from the beginning of the project” considers Frogier. “Artists from the past to nowadays used engraving as a practice to go beyond established media, to criticise the codes of aesthetics, so for us it is a very ambiguous and exciting practice to combine this with video, performance, painting and installations.” The use of different media appears necessary considering the concept behind the exhibition, which is to peel back the material and practical aspects of the works on display to reveal their essence as a signifier. Other highlights include Martin Salazar’s dark and claustrophobic installation, along with Yang Jiechang’s ‘I Still Remember’, an epic painting, in progress since 1998, in which the artist ‘processes memory’ by writing the name of every friend and acquaintance he has met over the years. Despite the challenging nature of the theme, the curators have succeeded in putting together a coherent and thought-provoking exhibition that forces visitors to question the boundaries between art, text and symbols.
Kyle began his career in 2008 shooting the rock’n’roll scene in China for Rock China and CityWeekend. He has collaborated with many domestic and foreign artists and is well-known in Shanghai for his unique shooting style and his ability to capture the expressions and movements of his subjects. Kyle has also worked for numerous world famous magazines, including Harper’s Bazaar, Numero, ELLE MEN, MR HongKong, QX and Men’s Heath. http://www.kylefong.com
The Rock Club “Many in the park are reading the white butterfly.” - Tomas Transtromer The maps of vogue are drawn on the edges and in the fray of the trendsetters’ jean jacket and with them lie the mute, shamed and curling like grub. They eat the roots under the hot sod on which the Glam dance. The beautiful people with their beetle shell leather flutter in the dark halls of their clubs smeared with graffiti and cocaine. They smirk in their drinks and laugh at their grandeur, toasting the elected artist on stage who plays their electrified anthem. The deaf may walk through this place and wonder why the ghosts that haunt the cool night nod like the addict. Why, they’ll wonder still, do the children of the night smile when they dance alone.
Craig Englund is a musician, jukebox enthusiast, short story author, travel writer and poet (of course). His work has appeared in The Aurorean/Unrorean, Asian Cha, Florida Review, Cypress Dome and many other print and online publications. He holds a Masters degree in writing from Pacific University studying under Marvin Bell and Kwame Dawes and once worked as a ‘ghost’ in a year round haunted house in Orlando, Florida. When he’s not annoying the locals with his foul, mispronounced mandarin he’s most likely at home wishing he could meet Tomas Transtromer, Elizabeth Bishop or Iron Man. He lives in an apartment high in the smog clouds of Shanghai, China.
What we’ve heard THE RUMOUR MILL has been churning out some whoppers in the last few weeks and, as your ever-faithful blabbermouths, we’ve picked the juiciest ones to get your little hearts a-fluttering.
Here we go. Massive OMG! The Summer Sonic festival, traditionally held exclusively in Japan and Korea, is also happening in Shanghai, reportedly on 17th and 18th of August, and it’s going to be big! The lineup hasn’t
been confirmed yet but there are some huge international names being bandied about, including Aerosmith, Muse, Stone Roses, M.I.A, Smashing Pumpkins, John Legend and Linkin Park. If any, or ideally all of these artists grace us with their presence, we would be a very lucky bunch indeed.
James Brown, Guns ‘N’ Roses and Slipknot, so hold onto your hats. We’ll be releasing the lineup on Shanghai247.net as soon as it’s been confirmed. Cross everything you possibly can for this one guys - I’ve wanted to see Linkin Park since I was a spotty youth. A little birdy (Xiao Zhong) caught wind of some news from down under. Apparently Melbourne-based band Witch Hats are Asia bound sometime this year, making stops in Shanghai, Hong Kong and Korea. If you haven’t heard any of their stuff, check them out - they rule. Keep your eye on Shanghai247.net for event details.
Lastly, Oliver Stone, as in the director of Platoon, Wall Street, and Natural Born Killers, to name but a few, is coming to the 16th Shanghai International Film Festival next month to receive an outstanding achievement
award. From what we’ve heard, he’s going to be mingling with fans, so get down to the fest and bend his ear about tinsel town!
Past Summer Sonics have played host to the likes of The Streets, Greenday,
EXPAT TIMELINE Go to the Bund. Decide that there really isn’t that much tourist stuff to do in Shanghai. Your first fake alcohol hangover. All previous hangovers pale in comparison. Start blog for the folks back home. This is going to be great! So cultural. Start Chinese lessons - 4 hours a week is totally achievable. You’ll be fluent in no time. A two week period of lethargy combines with finding a really good DVD shop. You don’t leave the house or speak to anyone for days. You start to get most of the jokes on wuluwu. Yes. You’re a bloody pro now.
Go to top of SWFC and Jinmao Tower.
You need a break from Chinese food. You can’t eat noodles all the time, right?
DAY 14 DAY 21
Your break from Chinese food ends when you realise that you have now given ALL your money to Element Fresh.
You have heard enough about the fabled ‘Avocado Lady’ to nod sagely when she is mentioned, but haven’t been there yet.
DAY 45 DAY 58 DAY 79 DAY 120 DAY 145 DAY 150
You leave Shanghai for the first time. It’s scary. You return to Shanghai and are surprised to find that it feels homely. You bask in the friendly glow of the line 2 lights. Family/friends come to visit. It’s like looking after children, Chrissakes.
DAY 171 DAY 180
DAY 212 DAY 220
Your excuse for not going out and exercising has shifted from ‘it’s way too cold, and there’s too many people’’ to ‘it’s way too hot, and have you seen the AQI?’
You spend a ton of money at the Propaganda Poster museum. Communist kitsch posters for everyone back home this Christmas... Cancel Chinese lessons - you’re just too bloody busy. You know enough to get by anyway. The Family Mart jingle no longer grates. You can enter the shop with a zen-like calm.
You are surprised/relieved to find out that this ‘Naked Retreats’ place people have been going on about isn’t a nudist colony after all. This is just like that time you found out that JZ Club had nothing to do with the rapper. At last you’re no longer the newest kid on the block and can finally utter the words ‘you haven’t even been to Shelter?!’
You decide it’s time to pack up and leave by the end of the year.
Screw it. Another year here won’t hurt.