Saturday, November 10, 2007

It's all about Asia

At the Christie's Contemporary previews there were two main themes:
1. Chinese, Japanese and Korean artists' works were included. (see photo with Murakami LV in the center)

2. Rich people have a fetish for dressing like they are about to go hunting when visiting auction previews, art fairs and galleries. This appears to be an international phenomenon, based on my visits to ARCO, for example. There, however, I believe the Spaniards to actually go shooting, as they would in the UK. But here, the closest they get to hunting is the Barney's Warehouse Sale. Nonetheless, there were plenty of those tufted navy or olive drab car coats, tall rubber rain boots from Scotland, riding boots (however, I have to cop to my own pair, guilty as charged) lots of Burberry plaid. And more HERMES bags than are probably in Anna Wintour's special closet. I also saw something even my feverish fashion obessed mind could never have imagined: a pale beige mink PONCHO with a turtleneck. (rocked by an anorexic, flat assed, peroxide blond, naturally)

3. The Chinoiserie/Asian Fetishism exploded however at the Asian Contemporary Art Fair. We missed the panel with curators, the talk by Rob Storr and Xu Bing (Rob Storr is like a saying they have in Spain: Es como el perejil, esta en todas las salsas, which roughly translates to: he's like parsley, in every sauce)

As we walked in we were greeted by a revewing stand of over life-sized metallic hued Mao figures. (pictured)
Subtle as a sledgehammer but it got way more orientalist after that. We were rubber-stamped as we walked in, with a RED STAR on each hand. (pictured) I am surprised that they didn't hand us chopsticks or fans. But it's the frisson of Communism that does it for the Americans. As those of us from their little-known, neglected Colony Puerto Rico know, what the gringos REALLY want is to hit exotic Red Cuba. (same for the Spaniards)

We began to notice a thrilling parallelism between certain kinds of multiculturalist-identity politics style native informant artists' works from Latin America and those from Asia. This was especially true of some Mexican artists we kept comparing to some Asians, for example, we saw an Asian Julio Galan. This led me to imagine a show called CHINOS POBLANOS pairing Neo-Mexicanists and Chinese, for example.

Like in Spain, CHINA seems to stand for all of Asia, and here, it was China that was the main signifier for the branding of the fair but there were other artists from other places. It was MAO MAO MAO, Tiannemen Square, Red Stars, Model Operas, Chinese landscapes, Shanghai Girls, but oddly, no Pandas. A pity. There was even Revolutionary Chinese Lladro. (pictured but sorry it's oriented -oops bad choice of wording - incorrectly on its side) And a huge model opera faux Socialist Realist picture including a lovely detail of Jeff Koons schtupping Cioccilina draped in a US Flag.

The highlights were: seeing the series of Ai Wei Wei photos where he gives the finger at various Chinese landmarks which reminds me of the Anselm Kiefer series that got Buchloh in trouble at Interfunktionen back in the day; and very handsome and helpful men on staff at one of the galleries.

I don't think I can subject you (my imaginary reader) to the so-called VIP room which was red inside and offered sushi, green tea, red sofas, bamboo flower arrangements but sadly no opium, though to view the people literally dozing on said couches, you wouldn't know this.

Well, at least I have the upcoming lecture at the Asia Society "Everything you always wanted to know about contemporary Chinese art" to look forward to. The Long March towards greater understanding of Asian art continues.

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