Another night in Beijing, another friend of Norman’s to meet (can’t thank you enough, Norman!). This time, it was Deng Dafei, multi-disciplenary artist and visual arts teacher. We started our visit at 798, an area in Beijing filled with art gallery after art gallery – waiting a few minutes after our driver dropped us off between a man selling baked sunflower heads and this:
Dafei took us to a number of galleries, here’s a picture of us at the first one:
At this gallery, we also went through an exhibit that dealt with “progress”. There was nothing hanging on the walls in this exhibit. The exhibit instead was a number of actors who improvised with you, asking questions about how you defined progress, dealt with it or recognized it in your life, country, etc. It was interesting, provocative, and very well done. We left chatting about our thoughts on the exhibit and headed off to visit a handful of the other galleries, including one sponsored by the North Korean government, before ending up at a traditional Chinese restaurant nearby.
Dafei ordered some great traditional food for us all to share and showed us some of his short films. We discussed the Utopia Group the artistic collaboration he has formed with He Hai, who we will meet shortly in Hangzhou, and Touchstone’s Journey from the East project. Another great conversation over yummy, Chinese food. Here’s a picture of us at the restaurant after dinner – we nearly closed the place down.
We ended the evening at the school where he teaches visual art to elementary and middle school students. As we went through a tour of the studios, we saw the students’ work; one of the focuses was on Obama. Really interesting to see what a teenager in China thinks about American politics and our president!
More to come…