flickr and China

I use flickr to host most of the photos that appear on this blog. Unfortunately, flickr is now being blocked in China, so I’m afraid that if you are one of my visitors from there then none of these images will show up for you.

Aside from the annoyance this causes my visitors, this is a real problem for me for three reasons. Firstly, a large proportion of my writing uses images as a starting point and illustration, so not being able to see them in the context of the post to which they relate removes a lot of information that is necessary to the understanding of what I’m talking about. Secondly, as I am beginning to write more about Chinese issues, I hope they will be of increasing interest to Chinese visitors, so this issue will become more and more of a problem as this potential audience increases. Thirdly, when I’m working in China I will be subject to the same block that my Chinese visitors are experiencing, making flickr pretty much unuseable at that point.

My choices appear to be to either wait and hope that the block is removed, or to change the way that I store my photos, which will mean to stop using flickr. The latter would be a real blow, as I have found flickr to be the best, most flexible and useable image management system out there, and having been a member since April 2005, I have a lot of investment in it in terms of time and effort which it would be difficult to replicate on another system or to host myself.

That said, I think that realistically it’s unlikely the block will be removed any time soon given the alleged circumstances behind it’s original placement.

I’d be interested to know what other solutions people suggest?


With monks at the Shaolin Temple

Me with some monks

I got back from China on Thursday and I’ve now pretty much unpacked and settled back into the flat. As I expected, while I was away there was little opportunity for the sustained thinking and concentration that I need to write blog posts, but having those three weeks away from the computer was a good break from working.

For all its problems I’ve really taken a liking to China, or at least to what I saw of it, and it’s kind of boring to be back in London (this last is probably just post-holiday blues).

As is probably evident from my recent posts here, I’m becoming more and more interested in the art scene in China. It’s at a very interesting stage of development, right now in the process of creating the systems and structures which will potentially become its future institutions. This is in comparison to the West where these institutions are entrenched and have been for a very long time, with little room for manoeuvre. I’ll be writing some posts on what I saw while I was in Beijing and I’ll be trying to synthesise my existing interests with this new-found subject-matter.

To really understand China though and to be able to be involved with it, I have to learn the language. I feel that unless I can speak the language I will never be able to fully immerse myself in the culture or be able to work with it in an appropriate, productive and respectful fashion. To that end, I’m looking into courses in Beijing at the various colleges there. If anyone has any recommendations or comments, please let me know.

Ed (almost) in China

So, tomorrow I’m flying out of London to Bejing for three weeks. What am I hoping for or expecting from this trip?

Firstly, and most importantly from a personal point of view, I’ll be seeing Shi, my fiancée again after a five-week gap. I’ll also be meeting her family for the first time.

Secondly, I’ll be being a tourist, seeing all those things which a tourist mustn’t miss when in China (or at least as many as we can reach comfortably from Beijing in the time available). That includes all the usual suspects, the Forbidden City, Tian’anmen Square, the Great Wall, the terracotta soldiers, etc.

And finally, I’ll be getting a feel for the art scene in China. This is something that I’ve only recently been introduced to, mainly through Shi, and the whole situation really interests me, both formally and theoretically.

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Shi in China

I realise that I’ve been very bad and haven’t written about my fiancée and what she’s been up to recently.

Shi left for China on the 2 May to join the curator Li Zhenhua as his assistant. She’d first worked with him a few years ago on ‘Out The Window-Space of Distraction‘ show he curated in Japan. Shi’s ability to speak Chinese, Japanese and English was obviously a great help to her in this. She’s now in Beijing helping with a new show he’s developing.

From what I’ve heard the show is going to be huge. It’s split across three sites in the city (maybe more) and features a large number of contemporary artists and musicians from Japan. As soon as Shi arrived in Beijing she was whisked off to begin work and she’s not really stopped since, bless her.

But her work on this show is only one side of Shi’s activities in China – she’s also developing her own professional practice. The first fruits of this is an article she’s been asked to write for an American journal. I’ve had a look at her draughts for the piece and it’s looking good. It’s in the peer review process at the moment, so fingers crossed it’ll go through without too many problems.

All in all, I’m really proud of my baby. She’s doing really well, managing the workload and creating new opportunities for herself at the same time.

And I’m also really happy because I’m going out to China on Tuesday to see her for the first time since she left. I’ll be there for three weeks during which time I’ll do some sightseeing and take a look at the art scene over there. I’ll try and post while I’m in Beijing, but I’ll only have access to Shi’s laptop and she’ll be needing it to work on and that takes priority, so my time may be limited. In any case, when I return to London at the end of June I’ll be able to upload the photos I take and do some reporting at my leisure.