Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Letter I

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Ink painting

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Iglesia

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Ice

Each week Cee of Cee’s Photography challenges bloggers with a fun prompt. This week we’re to find photos of subjects that begin with the Letter I.

On Tuesday when I first considered participating I thought I wouldn’t have any Letter I photos to post. Turns out I was wrong.

If you want to see more Letter I photos, go here.

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Travel Theme: Intense

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Each week Ailsa invites bloggers to post photos that capture a theme. This week’s theme is Intense.

If you would like to join in and create your own interpretation of this week’s theme (everyone’s welcome!) here’s what to do:

  • Create your own post and title it Travel theme: Intense.
  • Include a link to this page in your post so others can find it too
  • Get your post in by next Thursday, as the new travel theme comes out on Friday
  • Don’t forget to subscribe to keep up to date on the latest weekly travel themes. Sign up via the email subscription link in the sidebar or RSS!

Good Part of the Day

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Most of today was good, very good. I don’t have to teach on Thursdays, which has been delightful. I like getting a chance to catch my breath during the week.

Since my students have to visit a museum, I visited the Jinan Art Museum so I’d know about the works they may write about. The exhibits this time, weren’t stellar, or I should say there were fewer great paintings and many seemed like students’ work, but it was a nice way to spend the morning. I thought it was cool that one artist captured the Chinese astronauts with ink, a medium that I associate with older, more traditional paintings.

Child. Oil

Child. Oil

Astronaut. Chinese Ink

Astronaut. Chinese Ink

Landscape. Chinese Ink

Landscape. Chinese Ink 

I figured out how to get the buses home and along the way stopped for a quick lunch before meeting friends to check out a new café not too far from campus. We just had to walk over the big bridge that crosses the railroad tracks and we got to a very chic café, where a few students from our university work.

I was quite happy with my iced coffee drink (though I think they gave me the wrong one). In fact, all three of us got the wrong order the first time we were served, but they got things right in the end.

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Then I had to go downtown to get some art paper for a project my first class will do tomorrow and to get a shirt I had my eye on that’s on sale. (But today’s the last day of the sale so I was lucky to have the time to get to town.) Riding the bus I got to learn more of the adventures of Denise in Au Bonheurs des Dames (a.k.a The Paradise) and Ethel in His Second Wife. I’m at a shocking part of the both stories!

The pace of the day was just right. I’d gotten prepared for tomorrow’s classes, at no point did I have to rush and I had time for fun and enrichment.

All went well . . . until it didn’t.

But then things went pear-shaped . . . .

From the National Art Museum of China

I spent a lovely afternoon last Saturday wandering through the galleries of the National Art Museum of China. The collection consists of paintings, drawings and sculpture from the 20th and current century.

If you’re in Beijing, I recommend this museum. It’s free if you show your passport or Chinese i.d. card, and it’s not so crowded, a rarity on the weekends.

Never Sorry

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Be prepared to be blown away. Ai Wei Wei: Never Sorry packs quite a punch. This documentary shows Chinese artist cum activist Ai Wei Wei as he stands up for victims of the 2008 Sichuan earthquake and seeks justice after police break into his hotel room in Chengdu and beat him.

The film fascinated me. It follows Ai as he tries to get the government to publish the real numbers of students who died in the flimsy school buildings in Sichuan. With newsreel footage and interviews, it shows the torture and abuse his father endured in the 1950s. The documentary shows Ai in New York where he started his art career and in Europe installing current works. Filmmakers follow him as he pursues justice after being beaten by police and detained so that he was unable to testify on behalf of another Chinese activist, who was found guilty.

Ai is mesmerizing. He’s bold, audacious, brave, down-to-earth and shrewd. He’s figured out the power of social media and despite the government’s censorship has attracted a following of Chinese who share his desire for transparency and democracy. These folks aren’t just spectators as we see when Ai protests the government mandated demolition of the studio the government told him to build, hordes show up for his protest. They know they’re being watched and recorded and are willing to take that risk.

Ai knows what the government’s up to and finds clever ways to show it for what it is. Though he doubts he can win, he works within the system seeking justice from the police whom illegally knocked in his hotel room door, beat and detained him. By recording every step of his bureaucratic quest for justice, he shows the world how the government works and that all is not well in the new China.

I found the interviews with fellow artists and Evan Osnos of the New Yorker insightful and trenchant. They show how people who care about China will stick their necks out to make it better, even though they doubt they’ll see improvement.

Living in China myself, I see the good parts and know that experiences like Ai’s and Nobel Peace Prize Winner Liu Xiaobo‘s are true, but it’s so easy to forget. I’m grateful for this movie that reminds me and fleshes out Ai WeiWei’s life and work.

Ai Wei Wei’s Gangnam Style Parody