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SELECTED PHOTOGRAPHS from the PAST MONTH IN CHINA are posted at this link: HERE.
Krasner in Shanghai: take one
Krasner in Shanghai; take two (Part 1, A Trip to the Country)
Krasner in Shanghai; take three (Part 2, A Trip to the Country)
Krasner in Shanghai; take four (Part 3, A Trip to the Country)
Krasner in Shanghai; take five (Part 4, A Trip to the Country)
“A Trip to the Country Part 4 of 5”
“Back Garden of a House belonging to a French antique dealer in the ‘former’ French Concession of Shanghai”
Anyway. I would KILL, literally KILL for a Martini with olives. I ordered one at a restaurant in the French Concession (which, to be politically correct, is called ‘the former’ French Concession but that is ridiculous because a ton of French live there, and it seems that most of the fancy buildings are owned by the French, but I could be wrong. Segoline had me over to an artists ‘atelier’ in the (former) French Concession, and his guests were the French Ambassador and his wife and teenage daughter so you see my point…anyway…so you think they might get this Martini thing right, but it was watery, it was not Bombay Sapphire and the olives tasted like they were imported from Waldbaums on Long Island…hard/chewy/bland/fake. A veritable heart sink of disappointment. Even if I make it myself, there is no ice in the hotel….for us, anyway…..so forget it. But nevertheless…I WOULD KILL for one right now, or two or three.
Today we took a breather in a chemical supply company. I have no idea why and they didn’t seem to know who we were.
“Chemical Supply Company, China I”
“Chemical Supply Company, China II”
“Chemical Supply Company, China III”
And just across the street is this. Go figure.
Well, all pretenses seem to be dropped, though I can hardly type…sweat is just pouring from my body and there is air con but no one is turning it on, so my glasses just fog up, I can’t wear them…and dinner was not in the dining room, but in the tinier breakfast nook…two cats, two dogs 10 people, card table, tons of food, the humidity, the heat and the grabbing and eating of food as fast as you possibly can with chopsticks and of course it was delicious.
The grandmother of the sick baby took a definite dislike to me yesterday, you know how you can just tell, but today, she made a complete turn around and was basically force feeding me food at dinner. I made a back handed attempt to get everyone to know who I was by giving ‘the Driver’s’ daughter who reads a little English, my business card with a photograph of my work with my web site. My second attempt was to take a million photographs of ‘the Baby’ and make googlie sounds at it and wave at it a lot and make silly smilie faces at it, which of course nearly gave me an aneurism… But actually, I think it was, that after hiking through the rice paddies, I was literally covered in mud and so were my shoes and I had my pants rolled up to my knees with my two huge cameras on my hips and I think she really liked that because after lunch she was screaming at Eddy and pointing to my shoes. Anyway…whatever did it, I’m glad that’s fixed. I just really wish I could ask Mr. Zhu about the house he’s building and his factories, (also an abandoned wine storage project which took down a small section of a hill in front of his house) but Eddy put his foot down the moment we arrived when he said to me, “I’m not going to translate everything.” What he actually meant to say was, “I’m not going to translate anything.”
“The Abandoned Wine Storage Project on The Estate”
Do you think it could be possible to have a really interesting cultural experience without physical suffering? Why is suffering the only gateway to good artwork and great experiences. Why is vile wall to wall carpeting the most comfortable thing in the world to put your feet on and gross ugly lazy boy chairs the only chair in the world that feels THAT good. It’s this and other things I’m going to ask Eddy tomorrow as we watch huge pigs being slaughtered at 4:00 a.m.. G’night.
It is impossible to start from the beginning of today, our last day, so I will start at the end. We, me Eddy and ‘the Agent’, are finally on a train going home to Shanghai. We started back home at what I was told would be 7:15 a.m., which turned out to be 8:30 a.m. and that the lady we met yesterday at her house, her house being a 4 maybe 5 story, HUGE building in the middle of a tiny tiny ‘town’, with absolutely nothing in it, which I found out is rather typical, just the essentials…..
“Eddy and the Owner” …whose husband works for Mr. Zhu. This is her house.
Eddy had done some special ‘deal’ with her to get the bus to stop for us because her son drives the bus. I assumed, and assumed incorrectly, that we were taking the bus about 30 minutes to the train but we just kept going and going and going…during this time, sitting in the back with my Chinese Wheelie thing….my wheelie thing kept falling over onto the dead pig. Eddy bought some of the pig, and the pig is in a thick plastic old dirty white sack with green Chinese characters all over it dripping blood.
“Going Home” Eddy, the Agent and the Dead Pig
I asked Eddy if the bus was going to Shanghai, and he said it was going half way. At that point I realized I wouldn’t get home until midnight, leaving at 8 a.m…and it was bloody hot out. Anyway…..The scenery was horrifically depressing, I just kept wanting to burst into tears it was so awful…polluted skies, rows and rows and rows of hideous brick houses with dreadful patterned ceramic tiles….it looked like they got some really awful blue print from some suburban town house in the U.S. and then built the same one….ALL OVER CHINA….
“My townhouse, Anywhere, Planet Earth”
it’s so depressing because, well, their old houses, white with dark brown/blackish roof tiles are so incredibly charming. These houses are all centered around ‘The Factory’ with the mandatory smoke spewing out even MORE pollution into the thick blanket of gray ozone sky. Wet and muddy and HOT and then dotted in between this 1984 nightmare, are sweet charming (A lady just took her huge suitcase and started slamming it against my foot yapping at me to move, I just shook my head (2 seats, facing 2 seats and a tiny little area in-between, and she is actually trying to shove her huge suitcase on top of all our feet, mind boggling).…now she’s trying to push my foot out of the way as she’s sitting in front of me, but I’m holding my ground, my foot is exactly half way between the seats). And talking about ‘feet’, this is actually unfortunate, but very interesting. I was reading this book Taschen put out on Chinese Propaganda Posters and one of the women who posed for these posters was talking about how the artist decided to make the posters less pretty and more about depicting the real life of the workers by painting her toe nails brown which they had turned from mold caused from planting rice in the fields ……and…..here is a photograph of the feet of the farmer who stopped to talk to me when I was photographing the road kill:
Brown toe-nails from working in the rice fields
Anyway…..RICE FIELDS, and corn fields and some of my favorite water buffalo looking things, but I think they are cows, they are a sort of cow/water buffalo mix thing….but very few…and very few people working in the fields…like maybe one to a field. (Now she is screaming into the phone one foot in front of my face and I stuck ear plugs into my ear and it is still earth shatteringly loud…at least there is air con but from last Tuesdays experience, you never know when they might turn it off). Anyway…the bus drivers assistant starts yelling at us, which I knew meant it was time to get off, and get off NOW…so Eddy grabbed the dead pig and ‘the Agent’ grabbed his own very heavy, old used big green white and yellow plastic bag filled with large worm/eel things and I got my Chinese Wheelie thing, which thank goodness I bought…even though when I got home to Swatch I realized that it was used, dirty and partly broken. Anyway…we all trundled out into the street in the pouring rain into the middle of a two lane small city highway and just walked across it to the bus stop.
….So I got on the bus, and someone got up so I could sit down, do I look that bad?! Maybe, soaked through, my new Asics sneakers covered in mud from rice fields and my hair not washed for 5 days and my dreadful Chinese Wheelie thing with a , ‘Wal-Mart China’ ripped plastic bag trying its best to save the top of the Wheelie from getting soaked through, maybe I look pretty awful…I tried to get someone else to sit down but everyone seemed to want ME to, so I did. (honestly, I can’t even think…every time the train stops, and it stops a lot, they blast musac that sounds like Chinese girls singing and clapping hands with bells, something like a Chinese Sesame Street song) So……we finally get to the train station and Eddy and ‘the Agent’ kept looking at the board and there was a HUGE line so I just got on the line (very British of me ;-)). Eddy comes over and tells me, and by the way, it’s 2:00 p.m. now, Eddy tells me the train doesn’t leave until 4 p.m., but I looked on the board and the board said 5:03, and then he says, ‘no seats sit on floor’ and I say, “It’s fine if we don’t sit down” but now he doesn’t want to not sit down, and I am totally confused…and he said it will be horrible and it will smell and I said, “I don’t care, let’s just get the tickets and leave…” Oiy vay.
The information board with red letters inside the train station, Someplace, China
So we finally get up to the front and I say, “Can you please get a receipt?”…clearly pushing my luck… (a small New York arts group given the power to disseminate stipend awards through the New York Foundation for the Arts awarded me $277 for this 6 month artist residency in China and they need receipts. They also emailed me a huge paragraph stating their name and that they graciously gave me this award, which underneath says I must attach this to everything I print and to any shows I have associated with this entire 6 month residency because they gave me $277). Anyway…so then I have to explain to Eddy why I need the receipts which was too awful, but suddenly all these tickets I bought materialized in front of my face, which I thought was very strange. So Eddy asks the ticket counter man about the trains and he says that the 5 that gets in at 7:30 is an express and newer and cleaner and only 130 Yuan extra, which is only $21, which sounded great but when I gave him the money to pay for express tickets for all of us we wound up with tickets for the 5 pm train that gets in at 9 pm and when handing me my ticket he says, “this doesn’t have any seats.”
“Boy on Bike” JiangXi Province, China. This guy stopped me while I was taking pictures of a bus stop and took my photograph with his cell phone. Then he put me on the back of his motorcycle and drove me down the road to where Eddy, the Mother, the Sick Baby and the Agent were.
Well, the long and the short of it was, …after waiting three hours, we all drag ourselves with all our stuff, down a ton of steps to the train and it is so much cleaner than the first one, doesn’t smell, though the dead pig was starting to wreak, and only two, not three seats to a row…and of course, we ALL have seats….
“Lunch with Eddy”
TO BE CONTINUED next Wednesday……..