Ai Weiwei’s visa rejected for criminal conviction?

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In a splendidly ironic turn, Ai Weiwei’s British visa is refused due to “criminal conviction.” This is a rare moment when authorities in the UK and in China suddenly have the same view of the man who until now could do no wrong in the eyes of Western media. Proof positive that bureaucracy is amazingly consistently mindless no matter where its in effect.

http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/world/uk-grants-ai-weiwei-6-month-visa-apologizes-for-mixup/ar-BBlgNoK

The UK has since apologized.

 

Two more recent poems by Yan Li

56 cm x 78 cm

Patching Stars with Me 从我开始修补

Yan Li is in the Seattle area for the summer. He usually spends such time in New York, but is trying this side of the US mainland for a change of pace. Its slower than he used to, I believe, and this seems to have led to a more contemplative tone in some of his work, as is in evidence from these two poems, graciously translated by Denis Mair, below. I’ve added a few of Yan Li’s more subdued, though also contrasting images to fill out the picture:

严力  21:11

2 New Poems by Yan Li, Tr.by Denis Mair
严力最新诗歌一组(2首)英文翻译:梅丹理

请安静

在一个请安静到
针也不敢掉下来的地方
我把几声质疑声扔了出去
结果连我也被安静吞了进去

如初的安静
假设我重新站在那里
不再乱扔东西
同时向卧在道德里的针学习
可我还是怀疑自己
能否成为一个被安静所邀请的人

2015.6.

PLEASE QUIET DOWN

In a place so quiet
Not even a needle dares to drop
I throw around skeptical remarks
Yet in the end I get swallowed by the quiet

Ah, quietness as if at the origin!
If I could stand there once again
I would stop throwing things recklessly
And learn from the needle hidden in my conscience
But I still doubt whether I could be
Someone whom quietness would invite

一天

我拥有
先天与后天纠缠成一天的日子
每拦下自己的一次笑脸
就会吞下一片后悔药
每删除一个动作
必源于排练过的修养
这一天的每一秒早都写入了
文学经典
每分钟有三十秒的温差一如冬夏
每小时有几场分针追击时针的战争
每半天要发生几次上下午颠倒的错觉
这一天有几百种对太阳的称呼
这一天的半夜
醒来与睡去的人一样多

2015.7.

All in a Day [1]

Within the days I have been given
Innate heaven and latter heaven are entangled
Each time I hold back a grin
I have to swallow a pill of regret
Each deletion of an impulsive act
Derives from rehearsals of self-improvement
The classics of literature have already written
About each second of this day
Each minute has a thirty-degree temperature difference
Just like summer and winter…
Each hour the minute hand chases down the hour hand
Each evening up and down get upturned again and again
This day the sun will be addressed in a few hundred ways
This day in the middle of the night
People will wake and fall asleep in equal numbers

[1] This poem is untranslatable because the word “day” and the word “heaven” are the same word in Chinese.

 

80cm x 100cm

Chinese Dream 中国梦

Yan Li, Recent Works

Zhuanzi With Bird

Yan Li’s poetry and art has been receiving a lot of attention of late in China. Among others, the online poetry portal New Poetry Canon 新诗经started in 2012 by Gao Shixian, ran a lengthy piece (#067 May 15) containing many new poems. The opening introduction to Yan’s work also includes his recent work on the Autumn Moon festival, running annually in Beijing. That introduction as follows:

严力

严力:(1954—)祖籍浙江宁海,出生于北京,旅美画家、纽约一行诗社社长、朦胧诗代表诗人之一。1973年开始诗歌创作,1979年开始绘画创作。是1979年北京先锋艺术团体“星星画会”和文学团体“今天”的成员。1984年在上海人民公园展览厅举办了国内最早的先锋艺术的个人画展。1985年从北京留学纽约并于1987年在纽约创立《一行》诗刊,任主编。2009开始主持每年一次的北京中华世纪坛中秋国际诗歌会。严力出版的有:诗集、中短篇小说集、长篇小说、散文集、画集等二十多本。画作被上海美术馆、日本福冈亚洲美术馆、以及私人收藏家收藏.作品被翻译成多种文字,目前定居上海、北京和纽约。

Yan Li: (1954-) native of Ninghai, was born in Beijing and has had long residences in New York, Shanghai and other cities. He began composing poetry in 1973, and in 1979 also joined both the avant-garde Stars artist and Today writers and artists collectives. In 1984 in Shanghai People’s Park Hall he held his first one-man show, in fact the first one-man show of avant-garde art in contemporary China. In 1985 he moved from Beijing to study in New York, and in New York in 1987 founded One Line. In 2009 he began hosting the annual Mid-Autumn Festival China Millennium Monument in Beijing international poetry meeting. Yan Li has published over 20 collections of poetry, short stories, novels, essays and other arts-related works. His paintings have been collected by Shanghai Art Museum, Fukuoka Asian Art Museum, and private collectors. Works have been translated into many languages, currently we live in Shanghai, Beijing and New York.

 

Here, as well, the first poem, a short, 2-poem sequence, actually, with my translation:

 

1

对简单的形象

我一直很有亲近感

比如板凳和鞋拔子

唯有对门一直不敢轻信

主要是门后太复杂了

我还听说

为此有人在制作门的时候

特意往里面加进了敲门声

那是干什么用的呢

几十年过去了

我觉得真的很管用

门要时常敲敲自己的内心

 

DOOR 

1.

I’ve always felt close to

Those simple shapes

Like benches or shoe-horns

Only doors I don’t approach lightly

Mostly for the complexity of what lies behind them

I’ve heard that

When doormakers make doors

They often have to add a couple of knocks inside

What can that be for?

After a few decades

I discover they’re really useful

Because doors too need to knock now and again

on the doors to their own hearts

 

 

2。

关在门里的门

是卧室的门

关在门外的门

是家的大门

而从来不用关的那扇门

还没诞生

 

The door in the door

Is the bedroom door

The door outside the door

Is the front door

And the door that never needs closing

Has yet to be born

Yang Xiaobin, another poet’s photography

 

Poet, critic, scholar Yang Xiaobin, now on the faculty at Academia Sinica in Taiwan, has in recent years joined the group of contemporary Chinese poets working in photography (Bei Dao, Mo Mo, Li Li among others). Yang is certainly the one whose engagement is most fully explicated in his own theoretical manner on his website. The textual companion

關鍵詞

 

is constructed in the manner of “keywords”, including “quotidian,” “badness,” “ready-made,” “subjectivity,” “other,” “garbage,” “trace [Derrida],” “automatism,” “abstract/figural,” and so forth. His photographic images, meanwhile, were originally material objects (flat surfaces such as walls, doorways, pavement) at such acutely close-up range as to render them visually unintelligible. Since then he has moved on to something different, more tactile, and readable. Long explication of his “post-photography-ism” is Palimpsest and Trace: Post-Photographism. Sample images from the exhibition site:

 

pic1

 

More, and I think better, works available on his blog:

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As for Yang’s poetry, it is often described as being difficult, or at least challenging. Here, for instance, in a translation produced by Karla Kelsey, John Gery and the poet himself, is the second of three short poems, this entitled “Bread”

 

BREAD

You sliced the loaf of bread with a comb,

finding inside it hairs of the dead, a squamish voice,

and dry, warmed-over love.

the bread darkened and darkened, its crumbs

more and more seared and shriveled:

Before you could wash and dress, you face, too, was burnt:

its features, not easy to swallow,

burgeon with a hunger for beauty.

面包

你用梳子切开面包。那里

有死者的发丝,娇嗔

烤热的爱。

面包越来越黑,碎屑

越来越理不清:

梳洗之前,你的脸已烧焦。

难以下咽的五官

带着美的饥饿。

*translation appears in Another Kind of Nation: An Anthology of Contemporary Chinese Poetry edited by Zhang Er and Chen Dongdong (Talisman House, 2007), 290.

Zhong Biao at the Margins of the Avant-garde

 

Last month at the American Comparative Literature Conference in Seattle, on a panel co-organized by Barrett Watten, Jonathan Stalling and Jacob Edmond, I was presenting on Zhong Biao. Here a brief digest of my remarks.

 

Title: Zhong Biao at the Margins of the Avant-garde

Highlights:

Broader context:

I am trying to situate Zhong Biao with regard to the contemporary Chinese avant-garde. In the process, I am posing the following question: if we begin with the assumption that essentially (and among other things) the avant-garde is a challenge to status quo, a compulsion to dissolve codifications wherever they occur (and particularly as they relate to or bolster ideological structures with mass influence, be they market appeal or state apparatus based on coercion), then what of a situation where so few codifications are in fact in effect? –that is contemporary China, a tear-it-up-and-rebuild-it ethos, be it in the array of material work of the built environment or in the circular waves of political campaign didactially deployed to lead the nation “forward” but, I suspect, more often than not not fooling anyone.

Zhong Biao focus:

Zhong’s work strives, through a combination of abstraction and uncanny juxtaposition of realistically rendered figures from disparate space and time, to uncover latent energies or pneuma of the universe, manifest momentarily. The ephemera of our lives and ourselves emerge in his painting at the point of concretization but also dissolution, and always in some inherent interconnectedness.

This is an ambitious project because Zhong’s work does not fit easily within the avant-garde. Indeed, I suspect many would argue that his work belongs in an opposite category, if such a category exists. Where avant-garde practice is oppositional and in some respects destructive, Zhong’s is affirming, constructive, and mainstream. The reason I believe such a conversation is even warranted is that an attempt to situate ZB in AG context encourages fathoming of the limits of each. While discovering limitations of an artist poised too close to market impulses is unremarkable, observing the edge (blunt rather than cutting?) of the avant-garde as marginal overlap with the market is perhaps news.

 

Images discussed:

20、An Overall View 87.8x69.6cm Serigraphs 2013

An Overall View 150 x 120 cm 2013

10 Thousand Years

10 Thousand Years 200 x 150 cm 2011

ZBFLIGHT1

Life 280 x 200 2004

荡漾山水

Swinging Landscape 200 x 150 cm 2010

 

11-090310-ZB

Today 400 x 280 cm 2009

ZBLivingSpace生活空间

Living Space 130 x 130 cm 1996 (Oil on Canvas)