‘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.