Friday, January 26, 2007

30% wrong, 70% right

This is one of Shanghai's few surviving neighbourhood Mao murals, probably from the 60s, found, with the irony China seems to specialise in, on a wall just behind one of the city's upmarket shopping areas.

The official line on Mao is that he was 30% wrong and 70% right. For an expanded overview of his career, including how a young Mao was inspired by a dream of individualism and more surprisingly female emanicipation, have a look at this Wilson Quarterly article .

Thursday, January 11, 2007

fierce gods for fierce matters

A ceremonial mask in a Lamastry, Hohot, Inner mongolia.

Quite unnerving, but nothing in comparision to a couple of the gods, or the 'wrathful deities' as they are known;

I think this is Death but he could also be another version of the Protector of the Dharma, Mahakala:

I'm not really up on my buddhist gods but apparantly these wrathful deities are often just aspects of the compassionate dieties, there to represent their righteous anger at wrong-doing or a threat to the teachings. Hindism also has wrathful deities, such as Kali who is, on her milder days, the Divine Mother:

Makes me wonder if we need to channel the wrathful side of brands more? Maybe we could do with some more righteous anger from brands? There's plenty to be incensed about. And if so how would the angry and empowered brand, venturing out on behalf of all sentient beings, act and manifest itself?
Skulls hanging off the logo could be optional.

boozy climbing?

what's better than rock climbing? rock climbing with a beer!

Monday, January 08, 2007

changing landscapes

Back in the 1980s father and son team Xu XiXian and Xu JianRong would travel around Shanghai on the weekends taking photographs of the landscape. They have been recently revisiting those places and taking photographs to create a 'before and after' portrait of the city, collected together in their book 'Changing Shanghai'. It's a fascinating exercise as the 'economic miracle' of China is largely illustrated with skyscrapers and malls but these photographs illustrate a more subtle spectrum of change, from the radical:

to less orchestrated, more individual and piecemeal changes:

and changes that somehow preserve the past, and yet lose its spirit:

and that sometimes change is degeneration:

It's good to remember that there is this spectrum of change because there is a corresponding spectrum of experiences, one that encompasses loss and exclusion as well gain and inclusion.