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Krasner in Shanghai; take four

*****My work is featured on the PHOTOGRAPHY OF CHINA web site which is written and curated by Art Historian Marine Cabos*****

SELECTED PHOTOGRAPHS from the PAST MONTH IN CHINA are posted at this link: HERE.

RECENT POSTS:

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 five (Part 4, A Trip to the Country)

 

“A Trip to the Country Part 3 of 5”

DAY THREE

Thursday

“Turtle Soup”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Where should I start…well, it was a very long day…but in a good way. I got up at 5:40 a.m. and began photographing ‘the estate’ of ‘the Boss’. I didn’t realize how extensive this was. By the end of the day, this is what I found out.

They have their own coal mine (ish), which you see immediately as you enter the property…then they have three Olympic sized pools two of which are stocked with different fish…gold in one and black in the other with a turtle…who I think is their turtle…unless we ate him for dinner tonight. On the property, way away up a hill and hidden in the back is a pig farm (ish). Lot’s of pigs in stalls that you can’t see because there is a guard dog in the front. A pig farm, translates into pigs in small separate cement stalls. Anyway…we seem to eat one every night.  Then, up a back hill, WAY up some beautifully poured small cement steps is the burial plot of his mother…if you go even WAY WAY WAY further up the hill behind her, you find the fathers fancy stone thing on the top of the hill, of course.

Burial plot of ‘the Bosses’ father

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We went to Eddy’s home town for the 10 years he was separated from his parents during the Cultural Revolution (I’m finally piecing it together on my own) turns out it’s directly across the street, from Mr. Zhu’s and that is the bosses name and I found this out, because “the Driver’ left his daughter with us, who speaks a little bit of English .

“The Driver and his Daughter”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

She told me, that Mr. Zhu is ‘the Boss’ and everyone I’ve met that keeps eating breakfast lunch and dinner with us are all his relatives, his mother just died in May, and his parents, Eddy said, were very nice to him the 10 years he lived in the little town across the street and were poor, and Mr. Zhu is their son.  ‘The Agent’ is really nice to me and though I’m not sure what he does, he might be retired, and I don’t know where he lives, must be here, ‘the Agent’ I think, was Eddy’s friend and worked in the same town for 6 years. So ‘the Boss’, Mr. Zhu, supports everybody, and everybody works for him and they are all in charge of something…building the antique house, the pig farm, the coal stuff,

“Mr. Zhu’s Coal Mine” and entrance to the property from the only road.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

walking the dog, the new mini palace near the swimming pool….and don’t forget the HUGE Chinese factory that makes those things you hang around your neck, which is odd, since the first day I was able to walk, I went and bought myself one because I kept locking my key in the room…. When we left the factory I was given a selection of these things. Two of them say, “GO SUCK ON THIS.” Anyway, besides being so damn hot, the situation is pretty O.K. and my hosts are incredibly gracious, especially as my guess is, they have absolutely no idea who I am or what I’m doing in their house.

“Mr. Zhu’s Factory”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

These are all hand silk screened. I found out later on their web site, they make between  5 – 10 million U.S. dollars a year. 91% – 100% is exported

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The workers need to attach the ropes because their cards will fall through otherwise. This is how they check in and out.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This building where the workers live, is adjacent to the factory. There is nothing around here at all.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We eat breakfast and dinner in the house. A minimum of 12 dishes are put out at every meal and a MASSIVE thing of rice. The rice is boiled and has no taste…but in this Province they like spicy food and I love spicy food, and always, a few of the dishes are quite tasty…the eel, which I cannot tolerate the idea of, was exquisite, …and we had something that I knew must be terrible and Eddy said, “You should eat that but I’m not going to tell you what it is because you won’t eat it.” It tasted like foie gras and there was A LOT of it….and no French bread. Like a Martini without the olives…it’s just too wonderful BUT…. What else…anyway…we all sit at a large round table with a round thing in the middle that spins around and we (like 12+ people) each have a little bowl and chopsticks and you just dig in constantly with your own chopsticks and keep spinning the center thing to get what you want and there is a TON of food….and there is no water…and you can only drink the rice wine if someone makes a toast, so there is a toast every 15 seconds or so until everything has been drunk.

“Rice Wine with Rice”  or maybe it’s rice whiskey…I can’t remember …glug glug…..

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The first night at around 4 a.m. a dog was howling like I have never heard a dog howl before which went on for hours. In the morning, no one told me why no one bothered to shut up the dog, so I thought that every night around 4 a.m. the dog would start howling…turns out…it was having babies. It had 4 of them, but decided to do it in a place with no light so the photographs I took are pretty bad. (the daughter of the driver just came in my room while I’m writing this, and then the sister of Mr. Zhu and her baby and then Eddy came in and just took a picture of us all on the bed looking at the movie I took of ducks being herded down their new main road, but not until after the Sister put the Sick Baby on my lap)….

 

 

DAY FOUR

Friday

7:00 a.m.

Eddy’s town he was sent to during the Cultural Revolution to plant rice. He visited it today for the first time in 40 years

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yesterday we were dropped off at the small village that Eddy lived in and ‘the Agent’ walked me around the town which at first I thought was really odd but it turned out you can’t go anywhere in these small towns by yourself AT ALL so I was incredibly lucky to have him with me. I started walking to the next town by myself, maybe 100 feet – a lady walks out of her small cement house, dressed like anyone in New York but glares at me with her hands on her hips like, “don’t you even THINK of walking into my town” and does not move…really nice…really 2012. I said, “Hi” in Chinese but she did not change her expression or budge. It was really unpleasant.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There were many abandoned buildings in the town, but all of them had a little ancestral shrine.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So I’m walking down the road and I start photographing this road kill, below, and this guy comes over and starts talking to me (in Chinese).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Road Kill in China”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“The shot that got me the job at Travel and Leisure Magazine”  …just kidding, but see, I CAN shoot live animals as well! ;-)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Anyway…I can’t wait to get back to Shanghai, only because it seems like they are done entertaining us – and the main problem with that is, we have no car. So today is Friday and we we’re not supposed to leave till Monday and go on an overnight train, ugh, that gives us today and tomorrow with nothing to do and the problem with that is, it’s just so bloody hot and it’s raining.

Then of course we had a little problem. ‘the Driver’ told his daughter that she should sleep with me in the same bed, she told me that, and I told Eddy that I would sleep on the couch but I think he told them I wouldn’t sleep with the Drivers Daughter, and now ‘the Driver’ drove the boss away – so he must actually BE ‘the Driver’, but it’s 8:10 a.m. – no cars, women cooking all day – all his relatives working – ‘the Boss’ by the way, is extremely charming and smart. A picture of his family is in my room making me think I’m in his room, but the whole thing of course is confusing because ‘the Driver’ seems to keep his underwear in that room which I know because Eddy told me (irritated) that he couldn’t get to it the night before because I went to sleep so early – maybe that’s because I had no idea what anyone was saying…..I mean, I get that…but don’t blame me for the man not having his underwear.

They claim the huge dog (which ‘the Driver’s’ daughter told me was EXTREMELY EXPENSIVE) is only a one year old. He seems like he’s on his last legs – really – he is fat, can hardly move and is covered with a ton of fur – they really should cut his fur off, he is probably dying from the heat like I am.

I’d turn my computer on but Eddy never gives me a chance to organize myself – I just have to always be at the ready to split as in, “We’re going, now!”

I was thinking of helping cook, or helping work – like in the factory – but…

Eddy just showed up…we’re leaving NOW and we’re walking.

 

5:00 p.m.  same day.

I’m probably in the middle of heat stroke but nevertheless I still had to get my 659 images I took today onto my computer, charge my batteries, reformat my Compact Disks AND take a shower (a Herculean feet as there is no shower curtain the shower head needs to be hand held and I’m pretty sure it’s the only shower in the house) after walking for almost 7 hours through what I am certain, was the entirety of the JiangXi Province. We went back through Eddy’s village and then through other villages…they are all separated by rice fields and I guess everyone knows everyone else. I very seriously regret not photographing the old man in the Blue Mao Jacket walking down the new road, with a large tea pot. I really should have done it…I’m a jerk…I just hate asking people I don’t know to take their photographs, though everyone who I’ve taken a picture of seemed happy and thanked me…..that was just brain dead stupid dumb.

So…the $20 candy that Segoline, I and Cyril spent hours searching for and picking out to bring as a gift, has been put at the alter (next to my bedroom) of Mr. Zhu’s mother who just died…all of it. I am not sure if this is an insult or an honor…or maybe even both…maybe they don’t eat sweets…I should have just brought liquor…at least I didn’t bring tea, that would have been a huge mistake as I think they believe that their tea from here is the best…and maybe it is, but give me Earl Gray with some cream and sugar any day.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So…I realized, after hiking dead center through massive rice fields on tiny walk paths nearly up to my ankles in mud, and over rocks and more rocks for almost 7 hours, that…the story here is clearly Eddy. I am extremely interested in Eddy’s life but he’s telling me so little about it…..and he gets really annoyed if I ask him anything…and I have not asked him much…for example…”What is this huge cement structure we are hanging around on for an hour used for?” He told me it was for turtles (he just walked in and told me he was killing the turtle and I could take pictures, but I am just too tired and I really don’t want to watch a turtle being killed. Tomorrow at 4 a.m. we are going to watch pigs being slaughtered, which quite frankly, I think is enough, and I am gearing myself up for it…absolutely horrifying, but like not getting that perfect photograph today, just plain stupid not to do. Eddy doesn’t understand why I can watch pigs and not a turtle…I mean HONESTLY…would YOU want to watch a turtle being murdered? Good grief ;-))…anyway….that massive structure was NOT for turtles, it just COULDN’T be for turtles…first of all, I didn’t SEE any turtles.…though he did carry one back here.

“Turtle Ranch, China”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Turtle Ranch China II”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This morning around 7 a.m.  I was called over to see a maimed rabbit with its legs tied and told to photograph it. Everyone stood around sort of laughing which it seemed to be, not at me, but at the rabbit…maybe someone made a joke, but personally, it made me really sick. The poor thing. It is not imaginable, lying there with its leg chopped off…and then I was forced, forced because I of course did not have a choice, to eat breakfast immediately after at 7:15 a.m. seeing this poor thing suffering…and…there is no tea in the morning…so I am not happy for a really long time but of course I get over it. I would have made a very bad farmer.

We never ate the rabbit.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Anyway, I wish we could leave tomorrow after the pig killing session because I’m so tired and I want to put on air con, and I want to sleep on a mattress instead of a bamboo mat and I want to talk to people. I’m still not getting this ‘China’ thing and it’s not like I’m not trying…I just can’t put my finger on it yet. Maybe it’s because China has been isolated from the rest of the world until I think 1979 or something, a little over 20 years…   Or maybe it’s because there are 1.3 billion Chinese (article in The Economist). Maybe it’s because the Chinese and foreigners must be careful about what they say and do, that there are ‘rules’ I don’t quite completely understand yet.  I was at a gallery opening and in the middle of something rather inane I was saying, the persons response was, “Well…China is a Communist country”. I have no idea what that means at all. I thought Communism meant that everyone worked for the common good and everyone had equal amounts of everything, like money, education and healthcare; like the GOOD stuff. Honestly, I have absolutely no idea what is Communist about Communist China. Anyway, I still just have a superficial understanding of this country which is partly why it interests me so much; I can’t stereotype China, which fascinates me.

“My Bedroom” …but I was never really sure whose bedroom I had taken away from them.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Where we ate breakfast and sometimes dinner when Mr. Zhu was not around.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

TO BE CONTINUED next Wednesday……….

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