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Notes of a Musketeer
I applied for the residency in 2004, and was offered a spot in May, but could not accept for some personal reasons. However, I was offered another two-month residency in March 2005.
The morning of March 7, I came to Beijing and Wang Jun drove me to the studio nearby Cuigezhuang township. Wang Jun explained how everything worked and left. Although I came to Beijing many times it was always been either to see an exhibition with friends, or to participate in the exhibition of my own work. Now, sitting alone in this suburban studio, what was I going to do?
I checked the things in the studio and found a black notebook full of messages written by each of the previous visiting artists. Basically, they thanked Brian, talked about their work feelings, and explained how to get going: how to take the bus, the picture framer contact number, their own contact information, etc.
It seemed that after most people finished their residency, they rented a studio nearby and began to explore Beijing. In the book the Nanjing artist Shen Jingdong had left details. He said he rented his own studio in Beijing. I had met him before so I called him right away. He was very excited and said that his studio was nearby - come right away.
As old friends we chattered very warmly and talked for a long time. Hubei artist Li Xiaofeng, who was in the same compound with him, also came. Shen Jingdong joked that Brian had upset his life as he seldom went back to his home. Sometimes his girlfriend would come to see him from Nanjing.
He suggested that I could rent a studio nearby soon. I think it's hard for me to become the seventh "musketeer" – there being six artists before me.
At noon, they invited me to lunch and then visited the courtyard where their studio is located - Discover Art Space.
In the afternoon, Brian came to studio. He asked: have we met before? I said: it was at the first China Art Fair in Guangzhou in 1993. At that time, you just returned to your booth after visiting in the Asian Art Fair from Hong Kong. He showed me the fair’s catalogue.
Now he smiled and asked me what I was going to do in the next two months?
Yeah, what am I going to do these two months? I was lost in thought after Brian left. In the original application the idea was to continue to create my new Beijing Series. I looked through the old Beijing photos I brought, and almost everything I should do was done. I didn’t bring my computer so I couldn’t work on my photography.
I had a restless night thinking about the challenges. When I woke up the next morning, I suddenly remembered that Brian said that over the two months, I can move everything around, draw on the wall and build things in the studio, anything but hanging heavy things from the rafters. When I leave, he will arrange for people to return the studio to the original state. Why not use these two months to implement new ideas and construct something? This opportunity is too rare. Even if I rented a studio in the future, you can't mess it up like this.
Hire workers! Start collecting materials immediately! I wanted to do work about ancient buildings, but still had to make suitable designs. I worried about the materials. At the end of March, I went back to Zhengzhou and told a friend who often made models of old buildings. He told me to buy high-density foam, the finest electric wire and a transformer, and told me the specific production techniques. I said: “Don’t tell me. I don't know anything about these technologies. Let alone do it. I can't even buy things”.
When I had a definite idea, I began to think about what to do. One day, I rode around on my bike and found a large number of waste marble blocks. Where can I sit with these waste products to think and compare? ... In recent years, I have also been very interested in urban architecture. But still how to do it? A foreign artist offered to show me how to work with foam. With tools brought from France, her workers made it easy. In this environment, I finished this work easily. I felt great about it.
Liang Yue works at Red Gate Residency
Towards the end of the residency, a few of us went to Suojiacun village. There were rows of tall studios equipped with skylights, and you could build a second floor. I was really interested in renting, but there wasn’t anything available in the near future. Many people had booked spaces off the plan two years ago. I didn’t give up though, and always asked people if anything was available. There was almost no hope. At Yang Jinnan's 110 gallery opening, I met Zhou Jirong and talked about renting a studio and he introduced me to Old Huang of the compound management. Lao Huang showed me a studio and stressed that if I didn't pay 8,000 yuan deposit before 6 pm tomorrow, he wouldn't keep it. I managed to rent the 150 s m space, with a rent of more than 35,000 yuan a year - which was a lot for me. While I was still at the residency, I repeatedly contacted Old Huang to try to downsize to an 80 s m studio when he had the opportunity. Finally, in Lao Huang's words, he was really moved by me. Sincerity is spirit! He found an 80 s m space for me.
In the past, I always said that I was "floating" in Beijing, but now I couldn't make up my mind. This two-month visit as an artist is a transition, like a soft landing.
April 24 was the open day of the Beijing International Art Camp of Suojiacun village. That night, Brian also held a party for Yang Liming (a visiting artist from Chengdu) and me. We invited many friends to look at our works. Everyone enjoyed the barbecue and drank beer together until late. After that, Yang Liming, (who had also had found a studio), and I worked on plans to decorate them.
I began to decorate my studio in May 2005. As soon as I moved in, in June, the whole compound was classified as an illegal development. The court posted a notice of demolition, and the artists began to protest to protect their rights. To no avail! On November 15, the court forcibly demolished the row of studios opposite me. I created a work Suojiacun Village Demolishment Series 1.
2004 年夏天，我参加了门画廊艺术家驻留计划，然后在酱艺术中心举办了名为 “Chinois-Beijing” 的个展，展期一个月。为了那次展览，我在北京骑着自行车拍照，然后将那段时间新修建的建筑外观用剪纸的形式再现。
In the summer of 2004, I was with your Red Gate Gallery Artist Residency Program that resulted in a month-long solo exhibition at the Pickled Art Center titled "Chinois-Beijing." For the exhibit, I bicycled around Beijing taking photos that I then projected and cut out the silhouettes of all of the new construction happening at that transitional time in Beijing.
I hope you are safe and well and wish I could travel to China again sometime soon!
红门画廊Red Gate Gallery由澳大利亚籍人士布朗·华莱士Brian Wallace创办于1991年，是中国最早经营当代艺术的外资画廊。三十年来，红门画廊始终致力于中国当代艺术推广和国际艺术联络。邀请国际、国内知名策划人在红门画廊策划当代艺术活动，进行高水平的学术交流，向中国观众介绍国内外当代艺术，为中国当代艺术的发展以及中西方的艺术交流做出了巨大的贡献。
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