Saturday, May 30, 2009

Swedish creativity + Song Dynasty techniques @ Beijing

A couple of weeks ago we visited a museum which has given us a good many pleasant surprises, Beijing's Capital Museum (首都博物馆). We've seen Greek art, Gaudí, Chilean prehispanic artifacts... This time it was Ulla and Gustav Kreitz's turn: Swedish contemporary artists who, using an old fire flaming technique from the Song Dynasty (960-1279), were exhibiting a number of beautiful ceramic sculptures here in Beijing. I simply couldn't resist.

We were not disappointed, this exhibition gave us TEXTURE, beautiful textures achieved through superb technique... and it gave us stunning images inspired by childbirth, by the strength of womanhood... Of course, being sculpture, words are not the ideal medium of expression, but images definitely are:

As usual, I can't but express my admiration for artists, who reach those those mysterious areas of our brain that transform the ordinary into the extraordinary.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009


On April 25th we attended an memorable event: The Rebirth of Queer party by Queer Comrades to celebrate QAFBJ's (Queer as Folk Beijing) re-vamped Season 3 webcast at Tun Bar. "The what of what by whom for what?" you might think. This might help:

- Queer. A wonderful little word whose original meaning is odd, unusual, and which for many people now stands as an inclusive word for lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgenders and all non-heteronormative identities. That is, identities which challenge the notions of just two sexes, just two genders and/or traditional male-female monogamous relationships as the only models. Whole books have been written on this, so pardon me for causing more confusion than enlightenment .

- Comrade 同志 (tóngzhì). Chinese slang for "gay". The Chinese slang for lesbian is 拉拉 (lālā). Naurally, there's plenty more slang for other queer related stuff, like "P" (as in 老婆 lǎopó, wife) for femme and "T" (as in tomboy) for butch.

- Queer Comrades. A webcast from Mainland China on queer culture. It's in Chinese with English subtitles. Take a look, come on!

- QAFBJ. Old name for the Queer Comrades webcast. The party was to celebrate not just the beginning of a new season, but to celebrate the change of name, which in a way represents a coming of age, as they are strong enough now not to have to rely on the fame of the UK/US series.

- Webcast. Yes, the show airs only on the World Wide Web, and it's one of the most wonderful examples of how the internet has empowered people by enabling them to produce media directly, particularly in places where censorship and mores may act against them.

So, after this "short" digression, back to the event: Tun Bar, a usually straight night-club, was PACKED with queer people who gathered: a) to watch the first episode of Season 3 of a webcast where lesbians play a central role, b) to enjoy the performance of drag kings (women performing as men) and drag queens (men performing as women), and c) just to have a blast in a friendly place where roles had been reversed and being queer was the norm (a priceless feeling, if I may say).

Some of you are may be asking now what's so special about another big gay party for the promotion of another gay website, right? It IS special, and deserves a post, because:

- It took place in Beijing, China, a city with 17.4 million people yet with barely some 9 bars/clubs for the queer community.
- China still has countless gay men marrying women (ruining both their lives in the process) for the sole purpose of giving pa and ma a grandson/granddaughter, and any effort to promote a positive self-image for queer people deserves recognition.
- In 2005 Beijing cancelled its first ever gay cultural festival. As of today, we're still to see any gay festivals in Beijing...
- It's not a gay party for a gay website, it's a queer party for a queer website, and that makes a all the difference in the world, it's INCLUSIVE.
- Simply put, big queer parties in Beijing take place... once a year? maybe? hopefully?
- Finally, the disproportionate amount of foreigners at the event hinted at the lack of acceptance of diverse lifestyles among the Chinese and the fear of being seen at a patently queer event, and so the courage of the Chinese that made the event possible and the Chinese that did show up is praiseworthy.

This event was special because it showcased the brave attempt by a group of people to do something by and for the queer community, and because it shed light on how much still needs to be done. Fortunately, and to leave you on a lighter note, the event also gave some people a chance to find their "inner diva":