Feijiacun, where resourcefulness is visible.

I’m participating in an international artists’ residency program hosted by Red Gate Gallery, and my apartment is in Feijiacun, a growing village of migrant workers and artists, on the outskirts of Beijing.

This is where a nostalgic human-scale China can be found—dusty streets,  dumpling restaurants, small shops selling household goods, vegetable stalls, and a casual flow of pedestrians, motorcycles, baby carriages, and trucks. But the place is dynamic, not settled–people move in and out, and buildings come and go. The village has grown from an expanse of fields near the airport to a bustling small marketplace with makeshift shopfronts and temporary homes. What is here today may be gone tomorrow.

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Place of Belonging

This weekend I attended a salon focused on the topic of Heimat (in German) or guxiang (in Chinese), which is the sense of attachment to, identification with, and longing for your hometown or homeland. One session focused on romanticized images and politicized uses of the term in Germany and China, and the alienation therefore that people may feel about their place of supposed belonging. Continue reading

Old and New

Everyone knows Beijing’s physical landscape has transformed tremendously, giving it a gigantic mega-city image. Yet, pockets of an older way of life an be found almost everywhere. The contrasts bring on nostalgia, questions, and apprehension for both the old and the new.

Clear Skies

Wang Jing neighborhood, October 13, 2014

Wang Jing neighborhood, October 13, 2014

The skies cleared on Monday and I’ve been crossing big streets with pedestrian lights that countdown from 45 seconds (and the cars don’t pay attention anyway). The subway system has expanded a lot! I can zip from Wang Jing to Dongzhimen in about 15 minutes.

New to my ears: First time I ever heard a friend address the waiter, repeatedly, as “qin ai de” (my dear) instead of “fuwuyuan” (server)! Wow, that is fresh, in both senses of the word.