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Hutong demolition awareness in Hebei

The Global Times by Hao Ying, Thursday 29 July

Two expats' hutong gate Photo: Hao Ying

Two expats' hutong gate Photo: Hao Ying

An art festival in Hebei is exhibiting six mini hutong gates recently sold at a fundraiser for the Beijing Cultural Heritage Protection Center (CHP). The gates were among 20 created by local artists and sold at a July 17 fundraiser at the Three Shadows Photography Art Center in Caochangdi, which raised around 20,000 yuan.

“Bidders are thrilled because this raised the value of their purchased piece,” said Nancy Tao, a CHP volunteer who helped organize the fundraiser. “We’re thrilled because it gives more exposure to our organization.”

Tao and other CHP organizers took a 4.5- hour bus ride last Friday, accompanying six of the 15 kilogram clay sculptures to the Yan Gerber International Art Festival in Hebei Province’s Weichang county. The festival, sponsored by the area’s local government, displays more than a dozen exhibits featuring scores of artists.

Organizer Wu Qiuyan, who expects about 300 visitors to the exhibit, says the main appeal of the hutong gates exhibit is its mix of the international artists who created them.

CHP created 20 identical clay hutong gates approximately the size of birdhouses and invited the artists to turn them into original works of art – a scaled-down twist on the “CowParade” concept that has invaded cities around the world.

American Lucy Young covered her gate with colorful folded paper to evoke a nest. Italian Maria Paticchio crammed her gate with waste materials she found while biking through Beijing’s hutong districts. Chinese artist Wu Yiqiang used a hacksaw and drill to make his gate look like it had been pockmarked and worn down by the sands of time. Currie Lee, an artist from Korea and Canada, broke her model into pieces and placed it into a birdcage, representing “broken voices being marginalized to the recesses of rubble … silenced by the deafening roar of bulldozers.”

Following this theme one step further, Chinese artist Guo Jian’s smashed his gate into rubble and covered it with earth. A toy backhoe sits atop the debris, clearing the way for new development.

The remaining 14 gates are still on display at Three Shadows until Sunday. Three Shadows spokeswoman Bridget Noetzel says the CHP fundraiser sits very well with the problems Three Shadows itself faces. The gates exhibit has been paired with photographs by Three Shadows founders “RongRong” and “inri” that were taken at their hutong home in Beijing’s Liulitun area as the neighborhood was being razed in 2002.

Noetzel gave another reason why having the event in Three Shadows, designed by Ai Weiwei, was very meaningful. “We got a demolition notice in April,” she said.

Read the original article here.

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