All posts tagged: Art Scene

Introducing Living Otherwise

Changes are in store for the Art of Life in Chinese Central Asia thanks to a generous fellowship from the Simpson Center for the Humanities at the University of Washington. Not only have we moved from Beige Wind to a new site called Living Otherwise and transformed it into magazine-style repository, but we are also developing some new exciting larger-scale projects that highlight the arts and changing cultural systems of the city of Ürümchi and Northwest China more broadly. Over the next year we will be bringing you more long-form essays, such as the recently published piece “Ms. Munirä’s Wedding Gifts,” as well as interactive mapping projects and virtual exhibitions of Xinjiang arts and politics. Thanks as always for reading the Art of Life in Chinese Central Asia. Please enjoy “Living Otherwise”!

“Encounter on the Silk Road” at the 2014 Xinjiang Art Biennale

There were a lot of people at the International Expo Center on July 20, 2014, the last day of the Xinjiang Art Biennale. The massive complex next to a giant Buddha and Hilton hotel on the northeast side of the city echoed with the sounds of an original score by Philip Glass called “Encounter on the Silk Road.” The exhibition was heavy on spectacle. Giant video screens, paintings and sculptures drew the largely Han crowd into massive spaces lit by natural light. Smartphone cameras were often raised against the intensity of actually looking at the mesmerizing objects that called the viewer to contemplate the way contemporary Xinjiang is “a land of many colors.” True to this theme, many of the pieces on display were both diverse and provocative. Although there was a smattering of the usual pantheon of Chinese avant garde works on display and much of the video art seemed to be from Bulgaria and Italy, many of the pieces were specific to the region. As the deputy director of the Xinjiang Ministry of …

Chen Zhifeng, Xinjiang Billionaire, Patron of the Arts

Untitled #1 Chen Zhifeng is a “self-made” billionaire, founder of the Western Regions Photography Society, and a major force in Xinjiang’s art scene. He is part of a newly minted cohort of Xinjiang capitalists: the Xinjiang 8 (or 9) nouveau riche, who have taken advantage of Chinese-Central Asian market development and the post-Reform oil and gas economy. His Wild Horses Corporation brings in an annual income of $700 million selling Chinese-made women’s underwear and TVs in Russia and Kazakhstan. Yet, unlike some other Xinjiang elites, Chen has reinvested his wealth in Xinjiang. As a trained artist himself, he is renowned for his support of a multiethnic crew of young Xinjiang artists. With his prominently displayed black Hummer standing sentinel in front of his Wild Horse Hotel compound on Kunming Road just down the street from the Kazakhstan Visa Office/Embassy, Chen has become a Xinjianger’s Xinjianger. Although he was born in Hubei and came to Xinjiang as the result of a military assignment in 1981, Chen has taken on the cultural genealogy of Xinjiang history with a fierce amount bravado and …