uferhallen – autumn

A warm autumn afternoon yesterday with Michael, come all the way from Madrid. A morning cleaning, and more warmth of sun in the café at the gates of Uferhallen; many people wandering about on the last day of a large exhibition. I read my way through Iain M. Banks’ latest at too fast a clip, and so decide instead to attend to the photographing of the former BVG workshops.

I’ve been meaning to do this for months, and have on occasion pointed my camera somewhere, though not in the thorough manner I have planned. The Uferhallen is vast; on the north of the street, three massive long, low buildings interspersed with other buildings of various ages, as though a geologic collision across several epochs left the different architectures crushed and entangled. The further back one wanders the more this is so, pointing to the loci of impact just this side of the fence at the far end of the site.

Cut north-west to south-east, perpendicular to Uferstraße, are three main thoroughfares. The most westerly being the former parking ground and turning circle for the busses’ overnight sojourn. The middle leading to smaller workspaces and twisting alleys, and the most easterly, once passing the cavernous entrances to the machine workshops, leads back to possibly the oldest part of the area.

Of course, then there is the southern side of the street, with its massive block of generator building and accompanying chimney, and two further banks of endless workshop space.

I’d been wanting to photograph here for some time; thinking of how over three-quarters of a year last year I observed the Bötzow Brauerei and wondering what I might find here. The light today was quite beautiful, utterly clear skies, warm sun sinking slowly lower towards the horizon; I wanted to have this as a memory before turning to the more obvious greys and muted tones of late autumn and winter.

I am still limiting myself to shooting 1:1 and both black and white and colour simultaneously. I’m not sure why I don’t allow myself to venture into other aspect ratios, but something of the constraint appeals, even though the obvious distortion from the wide-angle lens at times frustrates me. Not to mention feeling distinctly clumsy and often wielding the camera like a drunken bludgeon against the object of my attention.

Today I walked through perhaps a third of the area, and turned my camera to far less, not even venturing inside. I had an idea it would be nice to do this also, somehow explore the place, insinuate myself in by virtue of the lens, show a bit of this quite special place that exists in the north of Berlin. Perhaps to be my small project for the next short while.

leaving taiwan

I’m leaving Taiwan tomorrow morning after 3 1/2 months here. It’s been very cool, I like this place alot, and maybe I’ll be back soon to terrorise more unsuspecting arts lovers. I didn’t make a whole lot of art here, but the time in the Taipei Artist Village has got me started on nine new works. Quanitiy, not quality, that’s what matters. I also met a huge number of really awesome people with whom I’ve had the pleasure of hanging out in once of the coolest citys I’ve lived in. (For me. three months is long enough to qualify as having lived here).

Tomorrow I fly to Hong Kong, where I will be catching up with some old friends, and meeting some new ones, then on to Guangzhou on the glorious KCR. In the meantime, I’d like to thank everyone here who has made my time a memorable one, and maybe we’ll get to do it all again very soon.

二十號倉庫 stock 20

I went down to 二十號倉庫 stock 20 yesterday, the Taizhong artist Village, which along with the Taipei Artist Village is part of Taiwan Artist Village Alliance. Stock 20 is located smack beside the Taizhong Main Railway Station in former railway sheds, with units shunting and switching all day and night. Maybe because of its closeness to the station, it’s alot busier than Taipei’s village. The cafe was packed and the thoroughfare was a regular mall. Nothing to see in art though as a new exhibition is going in.

I’m putting in an application for a residency there for late this year, part of my master-plan to slum around Taiwan for a bit longer, and do my installations rocknrollhotel and i felt something there.

art village @ taiwan

Before I came to Taiwan and the Taipei Artist Village, I had a pretty slim idea about what was going on in the arts over here beyond the money-shot festivals and Cloud Gate Dance Company. It turns out Taiwan has 18 artist villages across the island that have just come together under the Taiwan Artist Village Alliance.

Many of these villages are located in parts of town that were slowly dying, and artists have renovated abandoned buildings which become well-known sites for the arts. The publication of Art Village @ Taiwan booklet lists all the villages, including 台北國際藝術村 Taipei Artist Village and 草山行館 Grass Mountain Chateau in Taipei, and 二十號倉庫 stock 20 in Taizhong.

宋庄画家村画廊 10 years of Songzhuang Artist Village Gallery

Ten years ago Renzhuang village, a spit from the center of Beijing in the Tongzhou district, became the home of the 宋庄画家村画廊 Songzhuang Artist Village Gallery, which is now celebrating the anniversary with a huge exhibition of 100 artists that represent the strength of contemporary Chinese avant-garde. The International Herald Tribune wrote on the artist scenes in Beijing and Shanghai (no mention of the kick-arse one in Guangzhou though) which have become foci for art across China.

Shanghai’s first organic art movement is at Suzhou Creek, where artists hold open house in abandoned factories and warehouses.


There are also independent artists like Xu Weiqiang, who rent cheap space for as long as it lasts (bearing in mind that the authorities broke up Beijing’s Summer Palace community in 1995 and plan a marina development in Suzoh Creek).

“Beijing is the center of art, politics, economics and everything,” says Xu. “But art in Beijing is under political pressure. Here is Shanghai it is not. My work has no political influence – it comes from the heart. And art belongs to human beings. Where you showcase it doesn’t matter. The most important thing is that the people can join in.”

The disturbing thing is that all of these places including Dazhanzi in Beijing and Xiaoguwei in Guangzhou are either under threat of demolition or already brick dust. In the race to build 30 storey public toilets developers across China are wiping out the country’s art scene; the one thing China desperately needs more of.