Thursday, May 31, 2018

Butoh under the bridge

One day in February, walking around Ersha Island, we came across the underneath of a bridge. We knew right there and then that this would be a great spot for the habibi to do a Butoh improvisation. Finally, end of April we took the plunge – we packed a few props, walked over there, waited until some selfie-obsessed youngsters were done (the place and the light were really cool, can't blame them), we rehearsed a bit (especially so I would know where to stand and how I could move around, and for the habibi to get a feel of the space)... and voilà, the habibi's first Butoh improvisation in China!

To be honest, we were worried the police would come by and stop us, you know, the weird foreigners doing strange stuff without a permit. But no, a policeman did walk by, had a look, and then walked on. So, yay! We passed the acid test!

As for the performance, I did shoot video, but I'll let the habibi edit it and share it when ready. In the meantime, these few photos should give you a good idea of the performance, of the emotional, weird, otherworldly space created by this artist that never ceases to surprise me.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Lingnan art and carp at Guangzhou Art Museum

There's this somewhat overlooked museum, the Guangzhou Art Museum (广州艺术博物院). It's old, it's even fallen out of what is now the new centre of the city, and it was practically empty of people when we visited.

Nevertheless, it's still worth a visit if only for two (maybe three) things. First, its hall on Lingnan painting. It's not a big hall, so you can actually have a long, slow look at everything in it. And it explains about the origins of the Lingnan school of painting that appeared in 19th century Guangdong. It was considered very innovative back then, and is one of the pillars of contemporary Chinese painting.

Personally, I loved the use of colour, the lines and, in quite a few of the paintings, the bold, quirky calligraphy. I'd say that the trip to this museum is worth it simply because of this exhibition.  

Then, there is the architecture. Well, it's not a real reason to visit. But once you're there, it's at least interestingly old and passé and out of place?

But the other thing really worth a look is... the carp pond! Sure, so many places have carp, right? But this one had huge carp in every single colour! I had never seen such diversity! Yellow, gold, black, orange, red, blue, white, mottled black-blue-white, mottled orange-blue-white-black... beautiful! We spent so much time there just admiring these huge, colourful carp!

So, yeah, maybe this shouldn't be the first museum on your list. But it should definitely be in there somewhere.

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

multikulti dinner

Guangzhou being the megacity it is, it's easy to find yourself with a group of friends from very many places, both within China and out. And then, if someone decides to organize a dinner where everybody brings something inspired by their country or region... well, you end up with a dizzying array of dishes, though unsurprisingly the Chinese ones were good beyond belief! We'll never achieve the level of mastery of our Chinese friends, honestly.

Monday, May 28, 2018

black sesame icecream

Among the many flavours of stuff I've tried here, this must be one the best – black sesame ice cream! 

Sunday, May 27, 2018

cheongsam exhibition

If there's one iconic Chinese piece of clothing, it's the cheongsam (by the way, cheongsam, or 长衫, is the Cantonese word, in the north it's called a qipao, or 旗袍). So how lucky were we that the Guangdong Museum (广东省博物馆) would have a whole exhibition devoted to the cheongsam!

Depending on who you ask, the cheongsam has a history of about 3000 years (bearing similarities to clothing from the Western Zhou dynasty), of about 300 years (descending from Qing dynasty clothing), or just under 100 years (if you see it as a Shanghai innovation). 

Whichever way you look at it, it's one very special piece of clothing, and the exhibition was full of beautiful examples, from long-sleeved more wintery kinds... 

To super sensual, body-hugging contemporary dresses. The patterns and textures were incredible!

We love cheognsam. As simple as that. And they bring us memories of that beautiful movie by Wong Kar-wai, In the mood for love...

Saturday, May 26, 2018

just life

Like when at Starbucks they can't quite manage to remember your Chinese name nor to write what they think they remember, and you end up being called "spirit of Thailand" (泰神)...

Or when for the first time in your life you pick up a book, in Chinese, to read for pleasure, and for the first time ever you're reading top to bottom, right to left...

Because language is also part of experiencing this part of the world.

Friday, May 25, 2018

our new jiaozi joint!

We're loving the south of China. We really are. But here is one northern thing that is unbeatable, and that's one of our favourite staples – dumplings (or jiaozi 饺子)! It's just one of those things that's very basic, very tasty, and that also needs to be really well made for such a simple food to taste as good as it should.

Anyhow, we've found a good, basic but very tasty jiaozi place not far from home! yay! And our southern friends taught us something we had never seen – to ask for the jiaozi water to drink along with your food. In theory, it'll help you digest?

Little by little were becoming more knowledgeable about our neighbourhood...

Thursday, May 24, 2018

"Have Rice" at Zhu Art Museum

So, we saw there was this exhibition called "Have Rice", which is a Cantonese way of saying that someone is rich. Which makes sense – having land to cultivate rice, and being the owner of that produce, would have meant in the past you were a person of means. So, we were curious to see what the artist Li Jiahao (加号) had in mind. But also, this exhibition was taking place at Zhu Art Museum (柱美术馆), a place in a factory area which, in photos, looked super interesting!

Anyhow, first, the exhibition. It seems the goal was to get people in touch with rice and some sort of approach to the rural. The whole ground of the exhibition was covered with rice grains. It was interesting to look at and wander in, and I think it was a good marriage of concept and space. Interestingly, a number of women also liked the space and were staging selfie sessions all over the place! It took very good and lightning-fast photo-taking skills to get all these pics without selfie-taking women in them!  

Even the areas of the building that weren't part of the exhibition looked cool just by themselves, including the steps leading to the second floor (which was the main entrance to the exhibition).  

Once back outside, there were a couple of things that caught our eye. You may think that people are a bit obsessed with their smartphones where you live, but I think Guangzhou (or probably anywhere else in China) could easily beat them all. Which is why this graffiti seemed so accurate to me!

And then, of course, gnarly trees and tons of flowers. With this much sun, heat and water, of course you've gotta have this just about everywhere!

So, there's another gallery to add to our list of places to keep an eye on!

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

moving days

After three months of living here, our stuff finally arrived from Mexico! It was intense, with the unpacking (that alone took two fill days) and then putting everything where it belonged (that took a few extra days). Fortunately there was a long weekend and we had plenty of time. We finally felt it was ok to set the mezuzah... 

And we interspersed our home-arranging sessions with beer from our local brew-pub Bravo and banoffee pie from gay-friendly Social & Co... 

With Cantonese goose (our first time trying it!) at Charme 港丽...

With coffee, matcha lattés and bread from our beloved Grainy Bakery & Café...

And a whiskey stout at Strand Beer Café at the very end to celebrate we were finally done!

It was a super long wait, it took quite a while to make the place feel like home, but I'm glad good food and drink were there to keep us going and to celebrate. Also glad for a very dedicated habibi, of course! 

So, yeah, we can now say we're pretty much now fully settled here! hurray!