Thursday, November 4, 2010

Nov 4 2010 | Beijing: More than meets the eye

Art installation: Safely-caged dinosaurs
What can I say about a day that was so far off the tourist grid... We took two subways, a bus, and then walked a mile to an area called 798 Art Zone. What started almost 20 years ago as some squatters creating art installations in an abandoned automobile factory has become a vibrant, flourishing artists community complete with studios, gallery space, and of course cafes. The art is so contemporary and illuminating, certainly not what I expected to see in China. There was a pitch-black room with a ring of green laser light that contracts and then expands to immerse you in the installation. There was a flatpanel monitor with a wounded soldier and wounded dog pictured - and a hidden camera that would notice your movement and adjust their eyes to follow you. There was a video exhibit that shows a man golfing on the Windows XP grassy knoll desktop. There was an outdoor exhibit of a giant Transformer that looked hella cool. And this is a tiny drop in the bucket - there were hundreds of galleries and studios in this old factory complex and each one had really intriguing exhibits.

Autobots, roll out!

Without exception, all of the cafes in the 798 area served pizza, and not being one to cause an international incident, we obliged with a "Dances with Wolves" (egg, ham, tomato, pepper, mushroom, onion) pizza, banana split, and a pot of honey lemon tea. Hey, we're going home in two days, it's time to start transitioning to Western food :)

Locals cooking up meat and veggies
on a stick in a hutang (alley)

After hearing about the massages I have received in China, Olga wanted in on the action, so on the walk home we stopped by a foot massage place. This was my second foot massage ever, and instead of a neck rub, they did a "cupping" therapy on our feet. This involves putting an alcohol swab in a glass cup, lighting it on fire, and quickly while it is still ablaze, putting it on the heel of your foot. When the pressure is most intense, they move it to other parts of your sole. The walk back to the hotel felt like walking on pillows :)

1 comment:

Dave said...

Seeing a Transformer in Beijing gave me a huge sense of deja vu, so I went back and found this blurb. Clearly a different character. How many of these are there in Beijing??