’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. Research