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Beijing Image Building

‘Cover-Ups’ from the Beijing Image Building Series.

A city with the scale of Beijing and the scale of construction that is going on there is bound to produce huge amounts of building debris. The construction waste is however not that visible. Piles of sand, grit and garbage are covered up by plastic cloaks donned with colourful patterns, ranging from the ubiquitous red/blue stripes to pretty floral patterns. The canvasses are multi-purpose, they also serve as building material themselves. Suspended between the skeletons of Olympic venues to be, they form temporary housing for the workers. Between the canvasses hangs the laundry. Together these surfaces make up the image of the city, almost every street feature these 'façades’ of cloth. Wherever there is a building site a make-shift tent-village is erected only to be thrown out together with the workers/residents once the work is finished.

In 2007 we were in a artist-in-residency in Beijing right next door to the studio of Ai WeiWei. We were interested in how Beijing was gearing up for the Olympics of 2008 and gathered impressions of a city trying to look its best. This phase of 'under construction’ gave us the ability to circumvent the impression that was intended, and enabled us to see behind the scenes of city-scale image building. This resulted in a series of business-cards, the exchange of which is a modern Chinese ritual we found. Also the parallel meaning of introducing and asking for business is a apt metaphor for Beijing working on its Olympic appearance.

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Cover card of the Beijing Image Building Series.

In 2007 we were in a artist-in-residency in Beijing right next door to the studio of Ai WeiWei. We were interested in how Beijing was gearing up for the Olympics of 2008 and gathered impressions of a city trying to look its best. This phase of ‘under construction’ gave us the ability to circumvent the impression that was intended, and enabled us to see behind the scenes of city-scale image building. This resulted in a series of business-cards, the exchange of which is a modern Chinese ritual we found. Also the parallel meaning of introducing and asking for business is a apt metaphor for Beijing working on its Olympic appearance.

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more

‘Real Estate Poetry’ from the Beijing Image Building Series.

In 2007 we were in a artist-in-residency in Beijing right next door to the studio of Ai WeiWei. We were interested in how Beijing was gearing up for the Olympics of 2008 and gathered impressions of a city trying to look its best. This phase of 'under construction’ gave us the ability to circumvent the impression that was intended, and enabled us to see behind the scenes of city-scale image building. This resulted in a series of business-cards, the exchange of which is a modern Chinese ritual we found. Also the parallel meaning of introducing and asking for business is a apt metaphor for Beijing working on its Olympic appearance.

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Jinbei Qinwubing’ from the Beijing Image Building Series.

The white Jinbei minibus, sporting flashy speed stripes, is a very common sight in Beijing. The city is full of them going somewhere or waiting to pick something or somebody up. While the black blinded Audi sedan signifies government related power, the Jinbei minibus signifies small entrepreneurial spirit. The Chinese made minibus is relatively cheap, it is often bought by an extended family as a shared investment. It brings people to their work, picks up large goods and merchandise. The minibus including a driver is also for rent. In Beijing there are always many people relocating and the minibus makes a great moving van. Its the ideal way of making a trip out of town or picking up big purchases. More than any other model car these minibuses are a sign of a developing China on a broad scale, their speed stripes an icon of moving forward.

In 2007 we were in a artist-in-residency in Beijing right next door to the studio of Ai WeiWei. We were interested in how Beijing was gearing up for the Olympics of 2008 and gathered impressions of a city trying to look its best. This phase of ‘under construction’ gave us the ability to circumvent the impression that was intended, and enabled us to see behind the scenes of city-scale image building. This resulted in a series of business-cards, the exchange of which is a modern Chinese ritual we found. Also the parallel meaning of introducing and asking for business is a apt metaphor for Beijing working on its Olympic appearance.

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Screen Green’ from the Beijing Image Building Series.

The building pits in Beijing are hidden from sight by giant billboards, most of them filled with advertising. In particular the new subway stations built to be completed in 2008 are obscured from street view by hundreds of meters of prints depicting full-colour pictures of lush parks and greens. On top of this the impression of depth is enhanced by preceding the printed screen by a strip of real trees and bushes. Around the corner of Tianmen square, one of the most photographed spots in Beijing, the ministry of public security also utilises a green screen. A small strip of green backed up by huge billboards with pictures of the same trees obscure whats behind with an enjoyable illusion.

In 2007 we were in a artist-in-residency in Beijing right next door to the studio of Ai WeiWei. We were interested in how Beijing was gearing up for the Olympics of 2008 and gathered impressions of a city trying to look its best. This phase of ‘under construction’ gave us the ability to circumvent the impression that was intended, and enabled us to see behind the scenes of city-scale image building. This resulted in a series of business-cards, the exchange of which is a modern Chinese ritual we found. Also the parallel meaning of introducing and asking for business is a apt metaphor for Beijing working on its Olympic appearance.

Research
more