I’ll start with an apology. Nothing I say after this is going to come close to how I felt today. Today was a day where footsteps were drumbeats, sunlight was stardust, and everybody I saw was happiness incarnate. However, words can go quite far, and I will try to sum up as best I can, but be wary and know these next few lines are not comparable.
Today I ventured out to the 798 District alone. This is quite an achievement for me, as I do hate travelling alone at the best of times (I know, I know, it’s weak minded but I’m getting there). After a considerable amount of travelling/morphing into a sardine at times on the subway, I arrived to an unremarkable entrance proclaiming ‘798’ in bold 1.5m red metal lettering.
I should have learnt by now that in China, you never judge an alleyway by its entrance.
Wandering down, the atmosphere starts to peel the China you know away from you. Gone is the Communism, the fakery, the incessant staring, the traffic noises, the unmentionable smells. What replaces this distant China are sculptures of red dinosaurs, stalls selling adorable plush animals in retro coloured fabrics, and entrance upon entrance of every shape of art imaginable.
Highlights of my day are as follows –
Discovering a wonderful genealogy inspired photographic exhibition with layout inspiration for possible personal projects.
A blacked out sensory chamber filled with an unknown amount of people within, each vocalizing their own tribal-esque hip-hop beat box, the culmination of sound designed to disorient you amidst the darkness. Once I calmed the f down and appreciated the nuances of human sound, I started to dance, which in turn increased everyone’s tempo and volume and transformed the darkness into one of the coolest dance parties I have had the opportunity to participate in.
An interactive space titled ‘Progress’ which started with a young boy approaching me in a maze configured gallery space, and asking to define what progress is. I said people are progress. His eyes widened at this, and I felt I had said something wrong. Turns out I hit the nail on the head. The entire performance progressed into meeting a teen aged girl, who discussed the progress of people, which then turned to a young twenty-something male who talked about the 1% v 99% and worker/farmer/intellect debate in Chinese political culture. It finished with a 66 year old man giving me his personal account of the Cultural Revolution, albeit with a positive note which could have lead to a massive debate but I hushed. It felt like I was going along a walk with history itself, the past, present, and future all preaching some infinite wisdom, and allowing me to leave with it.
I’m going to stop here. I have no more words worthy of summarizing my day.