List of Monumental sculpture projects 2015

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Saturday, 8 August 2015

好奇藝術 Kunstkammer 44 : "如山" // 如山古琴 vs 如山小店. Like a Mountain; Boltanski

好奇藝術 Kunstkammer 44 : "如山" // 如山古琴 vs 如山小店

如山古琴 a Buddhist/Taoist spiritual guqin player/ concert.
The name of the guqin player who is a monk.
I like this name "如山" and I have named a little shop in 2009 in Beijing "如山".  It was a name that I had given privately for one of my favorite cycling stops in Beijing in 2009.  

Everyday in 2009 for one month, I rode my bicycle to a guqin school at Dongzhimen.
The boulevard sidewalk was and still remains wide and clear.  Clean.  You just ride along the 8 lane street, and stop anywhere you like.  Park your bike, get a nice honey yogurt in a ceramic jar, drink it up fresh cool through a straw, through the paper cover.  Look at some bookstores, cinema cafe shops.  Banks.  And you also could stop when you see interesting shops.  Like sample bag shops, sample clothing's shops, dotted all along this huge avenue running from Xidan all the way to DongZhimen.
如山 was the secret name I gave to a clothing shop in Beijing - which was a shop with no name.  It was housed in a traditional courtyard space - these houses that might be up for demolition very soon.
Its a shop off the main street of Beijing.  I took a bus one time, and it passed by these small shops lining up the main streets.
Bus no109, i think.
All the clothes were piled up as a mountain, taller than a person.  Many piles, lined wall to wall.  A real working installation.  Not an aesthetic artistic installation event of a famous artist at famous artist studios.  

Many years ago, in Paris, maybe 1993?  There was an installation of Boltanski at the Quai de la Gare Artist Studio - a Parisian squat.  There were many piles of donated clothing, with a plastic bag at 10ff, you could fill it up with any items.  There were a lot of immigrants who got many bags.  It was fun.  Beautiful lighting shone onto the piles.  

At 如山, the shop owner, and assistants were all women.  Its a sample/overstock/whatever shop.  It had the freedom and joy of scavengers.  The clothing were new, and often designer wear all made in China, exported, and returned after the seasons over?  Are these jobbers lots?  What is the life experience of a piece of clothing?  

Last month 2015 now, I tried to find this shop again, but is has disappeared.  All the little shops have disappeared.  Its now mainly regular shops with fast foods that lining this stretch of the street.
I like to listen to the vendors chatting, while they sit on top of the piles, sometimes interchange w shoppers.  They joke around.
They talked about going to Shenzhen buying these clothes on a per ton basis.
You feel free inside this shop, the owner is free, the shop assistants are free.
The owner told me sometimes in the afternoon that it was so hot, they had to close for siesta because nobody comes out when it hot like that.  So they close the shop for a few hours, and she just sleeps on top of the pile of clothes.  
So i call this shop "如山".  Like a mountain.
And the clothes are all scattered everywhere, t-shirts, shorts, pants, silk blouse, jackets, running jog suits, windbreaker, hats, fashionable outfits, dance wear, debardeurs, bustiers, skii wear, overstock, return stock, name brands from somewhere, sometimes with old price tags from around the world.  Made in China and returning to China w a foreign price tag.
I always wonder, where do these clothes come from.  Where have they been?
And the women, whats so interesting about them?  They, everyday, they get up, wash face, go to work - on the bus or on their bike - one whole day after another day, day in day out, what could they possibly know about interesting things in the city or about the world?  Their jokes, what so funny about them?  But no, I find their humor and their joy about being in this shop - instead of back in the villages working also at some other repetitive jobs or taking care of elderly, or young children - their world has opened, its a window to the city.  Their joy is genuine, joy and challenges the same.  When the challenges becomes too much, not worth it, they probably go on to other things.
Like what Elvis Presley sings, Lord, this time you gave me a mountain… how high are mountains?
Guqin player's mountain, lofty, quiet, spiritual, symbolic.

Clothing mountains, earthly, fun, unimportant for a society of huge consommation and discard (whats one more t-shirt or one less bustier?)  

Unlike the buyers at Boltanskis show, they were mainly immigrants finding a good deal. They were mainly Africans and people like myself - poor student, visitors, buyers all mixed.  I would buy one or two bags, and others might buy 20 bags.

I did not see any regular white person buying for fun.

(pictures of similar shops today in HK, or "fouille" in Paris)

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