While I am trying to work out the scary laundry machine in Chinese (at least I got the clothes to start spinning around now), I figured I wanted to show you some photos of the gallery I am working in, and tell you a bit about what I have been working on so far!
The Feizi Gallery is located in a foreign-style house on Fuxing West Road, which used to be a part of the former French Concession from 1849-1946. Shanghai has got quite a lot of these European styled buildings from the Colonial days, as the Western Colonial powers deemed Shanghai as the ideal city for trade due its strategic location at the mouth of the Yangze River.
The inside of the gallery is amazing. I find contemporary Chinese art to be so tranquil and mesmerizing, and I believe many artists take their inspiration from the simplicity of traditional Chinese ink paintings. A lot of China’s contemporary art aims to reflect the human desires and longings of a country which is being increasingly urbanized, and where the materialism and spiritual emptiness of Western-style city life is increasingly overtaking the traditions of a civilization that is over 4000 years old. What should China do with its immense financial growth? Subsume itself to Western traditions and adopt a Western style of living? Reject the outside world completely and stick to its Chinese ways? Or establish a fusion culture and make a compromise between the Oriental and Occidental mindset? The latter might sound good, but then again – why must all cultures always bend themselves to the wishes of the West? Why should “modernized” be the same as “Westernized”?
The gallery is a very nice, chill place to work. We don’t have that many visitors, both because we are quite small and hidden, and because people usually do not visit galleries on weekdays. We get a mixture of Chinese and Western visitors, however according to my boss I need to be vary of some, as there are many weird people in town now due to the World Expo. I also have to be on my guard for government officials that might come around asking questions. I did not quite get why I had to be so careful, but if there is one thing I know it is to not mess with the Chinese government, so if they come around, the best thing for me is to shut up and act like a dumb imbecile. In this rich, capitalist city one tends to forget that one is actually living in scary a Communist country.
My job so far has mostly evolved around creating event pages on various English tourist websites on Shanghai to promote our upcoming exhibition “Doom of Spring Flourish”, and translating texts from Chinese into English, all which relate to the exhibition. (Google translate sure is a nifty little tool, although it takes me hours just trying to edit the translated text into something understandable). Next week I will be getting a list of all the paintings that will be on display in the upcoming exhibition, and it is my job to translate all the titles into a suitable English equivalent. I also picked up the phone once, but could not understand a thing of what the Chinese guy was saying in the other end.
I like my job so far though, and I hope that I can get more and more challenging tasks as time goes by!