Beijing Drum Tower/French Opera Mash-up

This summer in my adopted Beijing neighborhood on Jiugulou Dajie (Old Drum Tower Street), Danwei reported on an eviction of a popular fruit stand on account of having to clear the way for a #8 line subway station.  Well, the Douban group where this material was discussed  is, of course, wiped from the slate of memory.

“呃…你想访问的页面不存在” heralds the age of the Chinese memory hole.

Fortunately the Danwei editors performed a stellar translation; the original indignant posting in Chinese, along with photos, still exists here.

38 Jiugulou Dajie, courtesy of Dongdong Qiang de Qiang
38 Jiugulou Dajie, courtesy of Dongdong Qiang de Qiang

I was off on the North Korean border during the eviction, but walked past those blue bunk beds every day.  Like a John Kerry for President bumper sticker on a rusty Honda civic in rural Ohio in 2007, these evicted people refused to accept their exiled status, and were clinging to both hope and anger.

Here is my artistic response to the eviction:  It is a simple mash-up of my footage of the area adjacent to the old fruit stand, and my interpretation, in Seattle, of a plangent melody by French opera composer Jaques Offenbach, who lived at the footstep of L’Opera and enjoyed his coffee in the clangor and construction of fin-de-siecle Paris.   So it is Beijing meets Seattle meets Paris, but the dynamic of lamentation (which itself occurs in newly-constructed buildings) for the destruction of the old remains stable.

Later I hope to post more cello-inflected mash-ups that reflect China’s, and my own, debut-de-millienaire sensibilities.  For some reason exposure to Ai Weiwei’s furious joy always emboldens me to think freely about such things.

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