Hi Art, May
The editor of
Hi Art has called me twice to invite me to contribute something. I have
to take these opportunities when they arise, otherwise he’ll never ask
weeks, I have heard several people recalling memories of childhoods in
courtyards. They stamp their feet and beat their chests as they recount
tearfully the happy times of childhood. For those of us who were savage
children, growing up beside railways and roads, we feel inferior that we
were not privy to the fine life lived by the children of the general
staff, the Navy Song and Dance Troupe, or the family of the Fine Arts
thought that when New China was established nearly sixty years ago,
class discrimination and oppression was eliminated. Now, I realize that
a new group of “nobles” emerged from I don’t know where, and disharmony
has existed ever since. The only difference is that in the past, power
mattered, whereas now it’s money.
In the past,
people with power poked fun at those without power, and distinguished
themselves by living separately. Today, the rich can still live in the
same quarters as the poor, and in this way it appears that society has
moved forward. But harmony continues to be a problem.
When I was
young, I lived in the family accommodation for the Capital Iron and
Steel Co in Shijingshan, west of Beijing. Tens of thousands of people
lived there, and workers and factory employees were mixed in with the
farmers who grew vegetables. You couldn’t tell from looking at peoples’
faces who did what.
Later, I went
to school downtown, but would travel by bike in order to save money for
a few meals. As I cycled through Haidian on my way home, I would pass
the courtyards owned by state and army units. In particular, I was
impressed by the courtyards of Cuiwei Lu and Wanshou Lu. They were
solemn and horrifying. Nobody could enter, no matter now small you were,
and the people who emerged walked with proud and confident manners. Even
the guards looked as though they could affect the state of affairs.
youngsters with adult family members would stand by the front gates with
civilized and polite manners. Then, it came to me that people were
indeed living entirely separate lives. The clean, straight walls of the
compounds suggested a life inside that was a far cry from where I lived.
The girls inside must surely dress neatly and behave gracefully -
nothing like the girls from my neighborhood, who rarely washed their
faces. In spite of these airs and graces, I disliked those courtyards.
on. Reform and opening has benefited China for more than 20 years, and
new movements of live have begun. Driving, buying apartments, going
abroad are no longer dreams. And if someone wants to boast about his or
her experience abroad, it is the listener and not the speaker who has a
say in starting up the conversation. In the twinkling of an eye, people
began to aspire for a high level, cultured inner life.
became familiar with the former arms factory of 798. Built by the German
Democratic Republic with our socialist brothers in the Soviet Union
acting as go-betweens, the plant was built in the uniform Bauhaus style,
whose sturdiness could rival that of Japanese defense towers, and bear
any hammering of the decoration workers. Now, it has been turned into an
artistic zone, with nearly 100 galleries, studios, bookshops, and
information institutes from home and abroad. People flock there to sell
and buy paintings, sculptures, radiators, photos, devices, and foreign
art books. Some rush all the way across here to collect items as soon as
the auction market makes the first sign of interest in a new trend.
Others sell unconventional garments with independent labels. Some are
here for the artists’ vain admiration, and some aspire to go down in
history. Some throw away the still reusable residue after decoration,
while a few small female security guards with cheeks as red as cherries
stand at the entrance to prevent taxis from entering.
I like this
district, because it is a relatively free area that belongs to all the
people, just like the Yutai Teahouse owned by Lao She’s character Wang
Lifa - where anyone can slide in as long as the world outside does not
I also like
this area because its artistic components have changed. In the 1950s,
small sparks were scattered here and there, and people tried to act
against the government or say what they wanted to say. My generation
born in the 1960s never said anything, and liked painting around the
city’s edged, but never entered the center. For those from the 1970s and
1980s, their attitude is more straight forward, and they play around
downtown. These adolescents, with their foreign peers, are like a pack
of happy moles, digging the earth and smelling the air above and below
ground, doing what I never could previously imagine doing, and speaking
what I failed to understand. They are leisurely, free, and stubborn with
their ideas. Words such as “teacher” and “master” frequently slip from
their mouths, making fun of those older than them. Their international
outlook are wide and gentle, and completely different to my own
generation, who are blind and confused.
adolescents may be the nth generation of the morning sun, welcomed into
the area - and they are surely the product of a third or fourth
generation of peaceful evolution after the imperialists left.
have changed, and those artists who return from the nations of the
imperialists do not find that opportunities await them back in China.
The new generation is turning a blind eye to them, and I think that
there will not be any “nobles” any more. Or at least, those bastards
will never live the life that they enjoyed in the past.
District managed by these children grows and flourishes. As Mr. Guo
Degang, a post-70s and not-so-famous comic crosstalk actor said,
“Tian’anmen may be moved here”.
courtyard managed by those children is more and more flourishing. Here I
want to quote a sentence by Mr. Guo Degang, a post-70s not-so-famous
comic cross-talk actor, “It is said that Tian An Men will be moved to