GeoSlant: The Journey West Travel Office

Stephanie Rothenberg & Dan S. Wang: The Journey West Travel Office

The Journey West Travel Office, 43 Zhonglouwan Hutong, Dongcheng District, Beijing, 100007 China

21 May – 10 July, 2011

As an agent of Spectacle, tourism fulfils manufactured desires, and you can’t get more manufactured—or at least programmed—than guided tours. Tailor-made to your requirements? Maybe so, but within your tightly regimented schedule (value-for-money!) you’ll see only what you want to see, and the tendency to cede control and the experience to the tour company itself becomes part of a demonstration of social and economic affluence. But maybe those restrictions can be put to use to provide a frame within which to re-view our understanding of the sites that we visit, through a critical engagement with the process and assumptions of tourism.

Setting up shop for the last two months in a tiny street front space in the historic Drum and Bell Tower area (once home to Beijing’s time-keeping apparatus), American artists Stephanie Rothenberg and Dan S. Wang have been running their Journey West Travel Office. The Office has been developed as a serious business, from their initial location scouting in this strategic area which sees plenty of foot traffic from potential clients, to the process of interviewing and engaging salespeople, whose subsequent travails as arbiters of the various package tours to passers-by become documentary material adding to the content of the piece as a performative intervention in the area.

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ArtSlant: Something in the Way?

Something on the Way: Alessandro Rolandi and Megumi Shimizu

The Journey West Travel Office, 43 Zhonglouwan Hutong, Beijing, China

19 June, 2011

Last weekend in the hutongs around the historic Drum and Bell Tower area in Beijing, Alessandro Rolandi from Italy and Megumi Shimizu from Japan staged the performance Something on the Way. This was included as part of Stephanie Rothenberg and Dan S. Wang’s Journey West Travel Office (a “performative installation that casts a critical eye on global tourism”). Something on the Way drew upon a mixture of traditions from Epic Theatre to Japanese Butoh performance to impose something of a delay into the everyday life around these narrow hutong alleyways.

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