Funkhaus Berlin: A Facility With an Illustrious Past

Walk down Köpenicker Chaussee, past Club Sisyphus, into industrial area that looks like an abandoned cold-war nuclear facility. When you see the alien spacecraft, you’ll know you’ve arrived at the Funkhaus, a mysterious one of a kind landmark of Berlin music culture.

The Funkhaus is not an all night disco – funk means radio in german– rather, it’s a colossal East German structure that used to be the largest radio-broadcasting site in the world. Think of it as the BBC of the DDR. After the fall of the wall, and despite a series of ambiguous ownerships since the 90’s, the Funkhaus maintained its relevance renting out its numerous studios to artists. Today the facility is a treasure trove for musicians, sound designers, producers, film directors, performance artists, and a great resource for anyone interested in Berlin history or architecture.

Berlin’s Ethical Fashion Show opens at new Funkhaus venue

The Funkhaus was built in 1951 at a time when Berlin was carved up by Allied powers. East and west Berlin had just begun a decades long competitive tradition of who could make their part of the city look more prosperous. Radio was emerging as a battleground for political ideology and the Deutsche Democratic Republic needed a way to compete with broadcasts coming from the West.

The DDR chose famous Bauhaus architect Franz Ehrlich to lead the design of a massive new broadcasting center. As a communist Ehrlich had spent half of the previous decade as a prisoner of the Third Reich, forced to build entryway arches to concentration camps. Now his job was to create the world’s largest and most sophisticated recording facility. It promised to be an ideal marriage of German functionality and Eastern decadence. The DRR gave him a generous budget and Ehrlich’s work turned out to be the greatest of his life.

Skunkfunk’s CEO at Berlin’s Ethical Fashion Show

Continue reading at Berlin Logs.


Ancient Porcelain Arts Thrive Again in a Chinese River Town

JINGDEZHEN, China — For centuries, the most coveted china from China came out of Jingdezhen’s workshops — fashioned from clay made smooth by trained hands, fired in kilns and then transported across the world.

The works graced the courts of the Persians, Mongols and French. Some craved blue-and-white vases. Others admired jade-green celadon bowls. This was China’s greatest export, the rival of silk.

The fall of the Qing dynasty and war and revolutions in the 20th century broke the artisan culture, unless one counts Communist statues as an important stage in China’s hallowed porcelain tradition.

Now that tradition is being revived at the roots. Young people are moving to study in Jingdezhen, a river town in the southern Chinese province of Jiangxi. Studios and workshops have popped up around town and in the surrounding valleys. Some of the new artisans hope to profit from their skills, since the country’s middle-class boom of recent decades has meant a greater demand for porcelain.

Continue reading at NYT

Art Village: A Year in Caochangdi

The warning arrived early on an April morning in 2010: a sheet of paper emblazoned with the red seal of the local party. “Notice,” it said, in big, bold Chinese characters. “Due to the rapid development of our cities, our village belongs to a demolition area. The date for demolition is uncertain.” The village secretary personally delivered the notice, one of hundreds issued that day in Caochangdi Art Village, on the outskirts of Beijing.

RongRong was busy when the message arrived. He and his wife, inri — founders and co-directors of the Three Shadows Photography Art Centre — were planning to launch Caochangdi’s first annual art festival, PhotoSpring, the next day. In the decade since the influential artist Ai Weiwei had moved to this sleepy district just off the Airport Expressway, Caochangdi had grown into an international center of contemporary art. Three Shadows played a major role in that transformation. Founded in 2007, the sprawling 4,600-square-meter gallery complex, designed by Ai, was the first contemporary art space dedicated exclusively to Chinese photography. RongRong hoped that PhotoSpring would further unify the district’s galleries through a couple of months of exhibitions.

Now the demolition notice put all that in jeopardy; RongRong worried the festival would be canceled. Residents could challenge the eviction, but their chances for success were slim. When the nearby art village of Suojiacun was razed the year before, artists had only a few weeks’ notice to vacate their studios, and some carted out their work as bulldozers approached.

Neighborhood demolitions, and the lives they disrupt, have become a common story in Beijing and across China, and not only in arts communities. In 2011, China became for the first time a mostly urban country, with more than half the population living in cities. Today more than a third of Beijing’s 20 million residents are migrants, and because they need spaces to live, work and play, the city’s traditional housing, scattered in a mazelike warren of hutong, or alleyways, is being demolished at record rates. In its place rise multi-story offices, shopping centers and apartment buildings. A staggering 2 billion square meters of new buildings are added in China each year.

grabs” initiated by developers without official oversight; in such cases shadowy demolition crews evict residents by force or with inadequate compensation. Indeed, land seizures and disputes are now the chief cause of social unrest in China.  The most resilient residents resort to life as dingzi hu — literally “nail households” that stick out like a stubborn nail because they refuse to budge. But eventually they give up, and when the bulldozers roll in, few beyond the immediate community pay much heed.  Anyone living in the path of development — poor or middle class, famous or anonymous — can be served an eviction notice, and there’s little chance for recourse in a country with a complicated history of property rights.

Continue reading at Places Journal


Why Instagram Is Becoming Facebook’s Next Facebook

At a recent all-hands meeting with employees, Kevin Systrom, a founder and chief executive of Instagram, showed off one of his favorite charts: Days to Reach the Next 100 Million Users.

“It’s the only graph in the company that we celebrate when it declines,” Mr. Systrom said in an interview last week at Instagram’s headquarters in Menlo Park, Calif.

Not long ago, the Facebook-owned photo-based social network grew at a steady clip. Every nine months, without fail, Instagram added another 100 million users somewhere in the world. Then, last year, it began racking up more new users every day. It grew to 600 million users from 500 million in only six months.

On Wednesday, just four months after reaching that milestone, the company announced it had reached another: About 700 million people now use Instagram every month, with about 400 million of them checking in daily.

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Candida Höfer

candida-hofer-01Höfer began taking color photographs of interiors of public buildings, such as offices, banks, and waiting rooms, in 1979 while studying in Düsseldorf. Her breakthrough to fame came with a series of photographs showing guest workers in Germany, after which she concentrated on the subjects “Interiors”, “Rooms” and “Zoological Gardens”. Höfer specialises in large-format photographs of empty interiors and social spaces that capture the “psychology of social architecture”. Her photographs are taken from a classic straight-on frontal angle or seek a diagonal in the composition. She tends to shoot each actionless room from an elevated vantage point near one wall so that the far wall is centered within the resulting image. From her earliest creations, she has been interested in representing public spaces such as museums, libraries, national archives, or opera houses devoid of all human presence. Höfer’s imagery has consistently focused on these depopulated interiors since the 1980s. Höfer groups her photographs into series that have institutional themes as well as geographical ones, but the formal similarity among her images is their dominant organizing principle.


Tang Yin, founder of the Suzhou School

Tang Yin (Chinese: 唐寅; pinyin: Táng Yín; Cantonese YWatching_the_Spring_and_Listening_to_the_Wind_by_Tang_Yinale: Tong Yan; 1470–1524), courtesy name Tang Bohu (唐伯虎), was a Chinese scholar, painter, calligrapher, and poet of theMing dynasty period whose life story has become a part of popular lore. Even though he was born during Ming dynasty, many of his paintings (especially paintings of people) were illustrated with elements from Pre-Tang to Song dynasty (12th century).[1][2]

Tang Yin is one of the most notable painters in Chinese art history. He is one of the “Four Masters of Ming dynasty” (Ming Si Jia), which also includes Shen Zhou (1427–1509), Wen Zhengming (1470–1559) and Qiu Ying (ca. 1495-1552). Tang was also a talented poet. Together with his contemporaries Wen Zhengming (1470–1559), Zhu Yunming (1460–1526), andXu Zhenqing, he was one of the “Four Literary Masters of the Wuzhong Region.”

Tang’s eccentric lifestyle has prompted storytellers to immortalize him as a trickster character in Chinese folklore. In one such story, he falls in love with a slave girl whom he glimpses on the boat of a high official passing through Suzhou. He has himself sold as a slave to the official’s household so that he may approach her. With the help of his friends, he eventually succeeds in bringing her home.[3] This story prompted the playwright Three Words by Feng Menglong and the opera The Three Smiles.

Tang emerged from the vital merchant class of Suzhou, at a very low economic level of the son of a restaurant operator. Contrary to some accounts, he seems to have studied assiduously during his youth, paying little attention to the worldly charms. His genius, which would later gain him renown as the supreme talent of the Jiangnan area (Southern China), soon drew him into the wealthy, powerful, and talented circles of Suzhou. Wen Zhengming became his friend; Wen’s father, Wen Lin (1445–1499), acted as something of a patron, making the right connections for him.[4]


Qi Baishi, el Goya chino

Qi Baishi (chino: 齐白石/齊白石, pinyin: Qí Báishí; 1 de enero de 1864 o 22 día del 11 mes del segundo año de Tongzhi en Xiangtan, Hunan — 16 de septiembre de 1957 en Pekín) fue un pintor chino moderno.

Hijo de agricultor, a los 14 años empezó a trabajar de carpintero. A los 20 años de edad cayó en sus manos un libro de pintura y empezó a pintar. Su carrera como retratista y pintor de escenas costumbristas empezó en su hogar. Cuando tenía 40 años viajó por primera vez por China y visitó los paisajes famosos de Hubei, Shaanxi, Hebei, Jiangxi, Guangdong y Guangxi. En 1917 se trasladó a Pekín, donde alcanzó la fama. en 1953 fue nombrado presidente de la Asamblea de Pintores Chinos y la Asamblea Popular Nacional. En 1955 el Consejo Mundial de la Paz le galardonó con el Premio Internacional de la Paz.

Qi Baishi interiorizó los elementos de la pintura tradicional y los desarrolló considerablemente. Sus pinturas muestran su habilidad para representar las cosas mediante estructuras simples trazadas con rápidas y habilidosas pinceladas.

Los temas preferidos de Qi fueron los paisajes, las escenas agrarias y sobre todo pequeñas criaturas como cangrejos y otros crustáceos, renacuajos, ratones, pájaros e insectos, así como plantas como peonias, lotos y bananos. Las figuras humanas de su obra aparecen a menudo esbozadas.


Roman Opalka

Roman Opalka (Hocquincourt, 1931 – 6 de agosto de 2011) fue un pintor francés de origen polaco.

Sus padres eran polacos, de 1949 a 1956 estudió en la Escuela de Arte de Łódź, y en 1951 en la Academia de Bellas Artes de Varsovia. Entre 1958 y 1960 fue profesor de arte en la Casa de la Cultura de Varsovia. En 1977 se instaló en Francia aunque es profesor invitado en la escuela de Bellas Artes de Düsseldorf y la Sommer Akademie de Salzburgo.

Cuando esperaba a su esposa en un café de Varsovia y ella se retrasaba le llegó la idea de materializar la pintura del tiempo, así desde 1965 pinta líneas de números en orden creciente en óleos, con el fin de dejar una traza irreversible en el tiempo. Pinta alrededor de 380 números por día.

Sigue un proceso protocolario: utiliza lienzos de 196 x 135 a los que denomina Détail en el que dibuja los números blancos con un pincel nº 0 sobre un fondo negro, comienza por la esquina superior izquierda y termina en la inferior derecha.

En 1972 alcanzó el número un millón. A partir de ahí decidió añadir un 1% de blanco al fondo de cada tela con lo que casi ha alcanzado el blanco. Al acabar de pintar los números los enumera y graba esa enumeración con un magnetofono y al acabar cada Détail realiza una foto consistente en un autorretrato delante del cuadro siempre en las mismas condiciones técnicas y de iluminación; de este modo se percibe el paralelismo entre la secuencia creciente de números y el envejecimiento del artista. Llegó hasta el número 5607249.