We enter the city from the east, moving swiftly over hundreds of repetitive elements: cylindrical storage tanks, rows of crops, industrial cranes, and dilapidated houses. Once landed in Pudong, we all board a bus and begin the drive into the city. We pass trucks carrying myriad items, from fat pigs, watermelons, or seaweed to immense slabs of iron and what look like empty plastic oil containers. As we enter the city itself, we are engulfed by towering residential buildings, their facades aged, air-conditioning units placed in the patterns of living across their skin. The ground, when visible from the highway, consists of streets crowded with people playing cards and conducting their day-to-day business in crumbling courtyards with scattered piles of debris.
Our guide, Allie, felt obliged to keep us entertained for the entire ride. She enumerated aspects of travel in China. Basic warnings: don’t drink the water, don’t go out alone at night. Advice: eat the fruit, go all over the city, ride in taxis (they’re inexpensive).
It is approximately midnight in Shanghai as I write this, having just returned from a delicious Japanese meal with the design clique. The apartment we come home to is rather oddly appointed; in some ways it is grand, in others, oddly sparse. We have three separate bedrooms, a large living room, decent kitchen, and a balcony. However, we have two place settings, a single pot, and a single pan with which to prepare any meals in our kitchen. We also have two towels with which to dry our three residents.
I will make a phone call tomorrow to Dai Chen to see if I can meet up with her and the art academy sometime this week. My plan is to show some of my work to other students and propose spending a weekend together simply creating art from what is at hand. I just want to take the time to really dig in and make something together without having enough time to be self-conscious about it. I imagine this art could take the form of sculpture, drawings, found object composition, performance, and interactive media. While making the work, I hope to be photographing the process and also collecting original samples of work.
Destinations for personal travel: Suzhou, Huang Shan.