Archiv für September 2009

update

I updated the ‚China‘-page on my website a little bit. It’s mainly photos I posted here already but it’s of course a lot more organized.

English & Deutsch

Europe ’89

Plattenbau

Himmelweit is an exhibition project covering the ‚peaceful revolution‘ in Europe in 1989 starting next friday, October 2nd. Since my brother is actively taking part he introduced me to the group in Dresden that will have an exhibition titled brüche – Dresden | 1989 | Dresden. I was invited to design the invitation cards for them. The images result from two of the exhibition topics. See the second card here

I‘ll take good photos once I get a print version of it.

*UPDATE: click HERE to read an (German) article and see photos of the exhibition*

Boat Behind

Kings of Convenience – The Boat Behind.

I really keep repeating myself but this clip is too nice not to share it with you :) . Just the right mood for the fading summer…

Shanghai Pt.3

I haven‘t actually written anything about Shanghai which I will in the next days. For now just a few more photos that I like.


It’s not a lie either, Chinese really can sleep anywhere and I‘m impressed about that…


the Shanghai Tourism Festival started on that weekend so they decorated many parts of the city center with bright colors


don‘t know what this shop is about but I like the photo for some reason…I know it doesn‘t seem to be too exciting :)


another ‚non-exciting‘ photo that I like a lot, I don‘t know the name of the building though

cultural industries

China Daily, an english newspaper about China, published a very interesting article about two weeks ago. The author was commenting on Chinas recent step to ‚vitalizing the cultural industries‘. His main concern was of course the word ‚industry‘. China has shown that it is able to provide the world with manufactured goods. Shenzhen is once again a great example for this. It became rich due to the manufacturing industries that are set up all around town. But what does culture have to do with ‚industry‘?

[…] Culture in its broadest sense is the way we conduct our daily lives. […] Yes, our food is unique, and we all use chopsticks instead of forks and knives. Foreigners around the world are crazy about Chinese food, and there are Chinese restaurants everywhere you go. That is about it. […] At the moment there are probably more Chinese elements preserved in Korean and Japanese culture.

Coming back to the company I work at once again. You can basically see this here. Their ‚design‘ thinking is based on ’styles‘, ‚Western style‘ – ‚Chinese style‘ – ‚American style‘ – etc. They keep pretending that they maintain their ‚cultural identity‘ by simply adding a handful of elements found in Chinese architecture (in the few temples and palaces that survived) and copy the rest together from design books or the internet.
I assume the main problem is not that they wouldn‘t be able to do it different but it has proven to work very well for them. Customers ask for this kind of work and since they are the ones with the money a design office just like ours provides it. And I suppose once this cycle is running it’s hard to step forward and change the whole idea of ‚design‘.
When I realized this very early in the internship and talked with my flatmate and colleague about it we thought that maybe we can somehow show them different and make them question their ’style of work‘. Of course this was absolutely naive and turned out to be completely stupid since money controls the business. It seems that you cannot survive in China if you don‘t adapt to this. And what is even more frustrating is when your hear from the boss (behind your back never direct!) that he thinks you‘re just a beginner and have no experience and idea about design. Well yes to some degree that is true. My boss studied industrial design in Berlin though so he has seen and learned a different way. I assume that this should make a difference but I guess I‘m wrong once again. As I wrote before ‚Shenzhen is all about making money…and it better be as fast as possible!‘.

Johanna was once asked by a Chinese colleague if she could help to find an ‚African style‘ dentist clinic :D

finally..

Last night after a shopping day (oh boy how I like being in these crazy shopping centres) I came by one of the restaurants in front of our house and saw something very interesting. It might seem disgusting to you and I think the sight is rather unusual, that’s for sure. But still THIS is part of the ‚chinese culture‘ that my boss keeps telling me about after he just copied another hotel interior. I forgot to take my little digital camera but had the newly purchased cell phone for my dad with me so I pulled it out and took those shots. Not the best quality (I actually don‘t want to post the ‚best‘ photo since it really is critical :) ) but you can see the dog. The funny thing about it was that the owner of the restaurant came out and started talking to my colleague and asking whether I was an animal rights activist and would make him any trouble. He told him that I‘m from Germany and I‘m certainly not photographing it to make any problems. It was the first time I see this ‚live‘ so I wanted to take a picture. He smiled again and offered to take as many photos as I wanted :)
And now I can finally say, Yes in China they eat dogs!


strangely ‚delicious‘?!

prosperous future

I just happen to become witness of a very disturbing incidence taking place in front of my window at office. I honestly have to say that I shouldn‘t have taken photos but I think this story tells a lot about this city. On the building that is situated in front of my office tower a lady tried to jump off the roof.
I assume that a lot of people already realized – if I haven‘t told them personally – that I don‘t like the city of Shenzhen. I tended to think that it counts for China in general but this is simply wrong as I realized again in Shanghai last weekend. My colleague told me many times already that ‚Shenzhen is all about money.‘ And it is true it was never really intended for anything else. The city exists and grew because the government decided to set up a ‚Special Economic Zone‘ nearest to Hong Kong. So most people who live here decided to leave their home towns to earn money in Shenzhen.
I don‘t have any proof and I‘m most certain that the government will not reveal any statistics about suicide numbers here but I heard that it is many times higher than in most other cities in China. And I would say that this makes sense. Once they come here and work at whatever job they get – be it a cleaning lady, a construction worker, security guard, etc. – they realise that life is not all about money and having a prosperous future. I can even see that here in the office. A lot of people are not only quitting because they are unhappy about the work atmosphere but because they also have a feeling of ‚homesickness‘. Many workers left behind their family, sometimes wife and children, and came here for work.
I certainly hope that this will change in the future and the city – be it ugly or not – becomes a ‚real‘ city and not a comglomerate of people desperately trying to find their luck and wealth which it is today…


at first I only saw the police officers and firefighters on the roof…


..until the big fire trucks arrived (see the red dot on the tip of the building, that’s the woman)


I‘m following it since 10 in the morning (it’s just after 4 in the afternoon now), luckily she hasn‘t jumped.. although she was really close a couple of times


in front of the building they put up an air pillow and secured the area with police and soldiers

*Just when I finished writing this entry I saw a man sitting right next to her so I believe the situation is safe now.

Shanghai pt.2

I took this photo friday early morning near Nanjing Road, the main pedestrian and shopping street in Shanghai. It’s somehow funny yet sad that this homeless is sleeping in front of this luxury boutique window with the name ‚[…] Marx‘.

I just remembered something else of Beijing. We met Lulu, the cousin of a former intern here in Shenzhen who showed us around town one day. When we left her and spoke the usual invitation to Germany she said

‚I would like to see Germany, it’s the birthplace of [Karl] Marx.‘ .

Thank you China!

Shanghai pt.1

I like ‚em black & white…more infos to follow.


ok no b/w I had to add this in color – one of the many construction site signs found anywhere across town


kid on the campus of Tongji University


early morning dance session in front of the Shopping malls on Nanjing Road (close to People’s Sq.)


regular Shanghai scenery


Qibao old village far outside of the town centre is one of the main attractions for Chinese – with the usual ‚traditional souvenir shops‘


you couldn‘t simply walk when a car was coming, street guards were always checking that you crossed the road only on green light


the Mao statue in front of Tongji Campus library – one of 4 (at universities) with the arm lifted

I quit!

Within the last maybe three weeks around 5 people told the boss that they will quit working in this office. Since we are around 25 people in total I think that tells a lot about the situation here . And I have to admit that I had plans myself to quit and look for something else to do for the rest of my stay (I didn‘t consider changing my flight as an option). It’s a normal state that people come and go and it happened before. Johanna told me that since she started in February about half of the people left the office (including interns). Of course quitting a job is done very different to how I think it would work (saying that and never having quit a job). Most of the workers don‘t have a contract – I wrote that before – and since this is due to the boss I would just leave the company and tell the boss on the day I leave. Well I know that this is not the nicest way but the reasons why people are leaving are simply because the boss is giving them a hard time (saying it nicely today). But no the Chinese write a ‚notice of termination‘. This seems strange to me but alright why not? When I saw a notice though I was stunned. They are not simply telling the boss ‚Look I will quit working at the end of the month for this and that reason.‘ They start ‚praising‘ the boss telling him how thankful they are about what they have learned from him. They tell the reason why they leave but in a subordinate clause when apologizing for any losses the boss might encounter after they are gone. I will truly never understand their thinking as it is not them who are the problem but the boss.

Tomte

This time I would like to share two songs of the latest Tomte release called ‚Heureka‘. It came out already last october and I have it floating on my digital mess for a great while now before I finally got into it. The two songs below are definitely my favorite ones.


Wie ein Planet

 


Nichts ist so schön auf der Welt wie betrunken traurige Musik zu hören

The first song is definitely in the ‚old style‘ of Tomte yet still very nice. The second one is something new – in my opinion at least. It can be translated as ‚There’s nothing better in the world than listening to sad music when being drunk‘. Some people even say that the intrumental parts are similar to old Oasis recordings. Could be right but anyway it’s great.

And please don‘t make any wrong assumptions here. I‘m about to leave this crazy town for the weekend so I‘m anything but sad :)

around my neighborhood

saturday afternoon walk around the block…


Google translator or political statement? – found on a big information screen

people playing games in one of the ‚parks‘ (small concrete areas between the street canyons) – mainly also for money


one of the cyclo-people offering his services – from relocation to carpentry – oh these multi-talented chinese


kid playing near the car repair shops – reminds me a lot of my walk to Dolapdere Campus in Istanbul


‚trash collectors‘ sorting bottles – for each bottle they get about 2-3 cents

Lili Marleen

Last week I could enjoy the great pleasure of finally going to a ‚chinese style‘ club here in Shenzhen. It was one of Johannas last evenings so we decided to go to a place called ‚Lili Marleen‘. It’s a huge building full of blue neon signs that you can see from anywhere and I think already this would normally make me consider not to enter this place. In front of it two security guards in Army uniforms with helmets were checking who got in. The inside was somehow funny. They really put a lot of effort in the decoration – the side walls were full of LCD screens showing graphics but the rest of the place was decorated in a ‚wild west style‘ rather being rustic than modern. There was no dance floor so you had to dance around your table which was always the ‚home base‘ of a group since drinks were mainly served in bottles (and I don‘t mean only the beer). The music was in my opinion really crappy and consisted mainly of R‘n'B and black music which is absolutely not my taste of music but they had a really lovely addition to that. Around the room they had placed several small platforms where people could dance on or, and that was the interesting part, where live ‚Karaoke-style‘ singers could perform their show. The music performed by the singers was a wild mix of R‘n'B and Chinese-Cheesy-Pop which made the Chinese go completely crazy.
At one point a guy in a Spiderman costume showed up behind the bar and started a short barkeeping-juggling performance. The music then was some really nice breakbeat (the best music played this evening in my opinion) but of course people were too focused on Spiderman and didn‘t dance to it.
I simply started drinking overpriced Heineken and surely got in the mood to dance as well. So in the end people started inviting me for drinks were dancing with me or screaming a drunk but nonetheless heartily ‚Welcome to China!‘ in my ear.
And in between all this chaos the regular cleaning ladies in their work dress armed with shovel and broom were constantly walking around you and picking up anything that was on the floor. What a strange image…


if god is a DJ then Spiderman is the barkeeper…


short recording of one of the many ‚Karaoke-style‘ live performances

Realpeople

I have Gulag Orkestar‘ on my MP3 player for a really long time now and I also mentioned the band ‚Beirut‘ before. Phil posted some videos of the wonderful ‚Blogothèque‘ including a clip from Beirut. So I started looking around for ways to watch the videos (Youtube is still blocked) and found that Zach Condon, the founder and lead-singer of Beirut, released a new album just this year with the title ‚March of the Zapotec – Realpeople Holland EP‘. Half of the album contains new Beirut songs but the second half was very interesting as well. ‚Realpeople‘ is the artist name Zach Condon used for recordings he‘d done before ‚Beirut‘. It’s a lot more electronic and extremely different to Beirut but it’s great nonetheless.


Realpeople – No Dice

very good instrumental track that has a ’slight hint‘ of 8Bit (Nintendo sound) in it…


The Concubine

Beirut once again with an amazing sound

Guangzhou

I mentioned Guangzhou before but haven‘t posted any photos yet. So here we go…even though I can once again say that I wasn‘t extremely impressed.


simply perfect living…


the train station is not particularly nice but it’s really interesting to see how many people and how they are traveling


This last sentence is simply great. I mean the Orchid Garden was truly an oasis in the middle of the city but this is once again an exaggeration ‚chinese style‘ :)


fishes shouldn‘t be missing in a Chinese Garden for the ‚good luck‘ and such


now this is by far the most elegant inscription I have seen, I think the Chinese letters look so much better…


…than the latin one…sorry Cathy & Vince but this is ugly.


lovely tea house next to the fish pond inside the ‚Orchid Garden‘


chinese porcelain painting is very beautiful