Workers carry exaggerated furniture loads in Alain Delorme’s Totems photographs by James Brillon (from dezeen)

This photo series by French photographer Alain Delorme spotlights China‘s consumer society through doctored images of workers transporting teetering piles of furniture and other goods.totems-alain-delorme-photography-streets-china_dezeen_2364_col_3totems-alain-delorme-photography-streets-china_dezeen_2364_col_14totems-alain-delorme-photography-streets-china_dezeen_2364_col_15totems-alain-delorme-photography-streets-china_dezeen_2364_col_9-1704x1137totems-alain-delorme-photography-streets-china_dezeen_2364_col_4-1704x2553totems-alain-delorme-photography-streets-china_dezeen_2364_col_6-1704x1137totems-alain-delorme-photography-streets-china_dezeen_2364_col_0-1704x1137totems-alain-delorme-photography-streets-china_dezeen_2364_col_5-1704x1137totems-alain-delorme-photography-streets-china_dezeen_2364_hero-1704x958totems-alain-delorme-photography-streets-china_dezeen_2364_col_0-1704x1137totems-alain-delorme-photography-streets-china_dezeen_2364_col_6-1704x1137totems-alain-delorme-photography-streets-china_dezeen_2364_col_4-1704x2553totems-alain-delorme-photography-streets-china_dezeen_2364_col_15totems-alain-delorme-photography-streets-china_dezeen_2364_col_9-1704x1137totems-alain-delorme-photography-streets-china_dezeen_2364_col_14totems-alain-delorme-photography-streets-china_dezeen_2364_col_3totems-alain-delorme-photography-streets-china_dezeen_2364_hero-852x479

More: https://www.dezeen.com/2018/01/15/workers-carry-impossible-furniture-loads-alain-delorme-totems-photographs/?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Daily%20Dezeen%20Digest&utm_content=Daily%20Dezeen%20Digest+CID_c32b9b53b77c1f34d95853fca6835c39&utm_source=Dezeen%20Mail&utm_term=More

Photo Gallery: Chinese artist Jacky Tsai’s “The Harmonious Society” in London courtesy Art Radar

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The Fine Art Society in London presents the second solo show of Chinese artist Jacky Tsai following the success of his first in 2015.

Jacky Tsai, the creator of Alexander McQueen’s floral skull, presents an ironic contemporary take on the political and social ideologies that shape China’s identity.

“The Harmonious Society”, running at The Fine Art Society in London until 8 November 2016, features a new body of work by London-based Chinese artist Jacky Tsai, best known as the creator of the iconic floral skull image made for late British fashion designer Alexander McQueen.

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Born in Shanghai in 1984, Jacky Tsai graduated with an MFA from Central St Martin’s in London, and has been exhibiting worldwide, with key shows in London, New York City, Singapore and Hong Kong. His dynamic art practice combines traditional Chinese painting techniques with references to western Pop Art styles. His subjects are also a playful juxtaposition of western and eastern iconographies, such as superheros like Superman, Batman and Robin and Wonder Woman, and Chinese mythological figures like the Yellow Emperor, the Monkey King and Chang E as well as court ladies, set in ancient Chinese palaces and gardens.

More: http://artradarjournal.com/2016/10/28/photo-gallery-chinese-artist-jacky-tsais-the-harmonious-society-in-london/?from=feedblitz_403966_5357249

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Beijing Hosts First International Street Art Exhibition in China by CLAIRE BOUCHARA | JULY 08, 2016 – From BLOUINARTINFO

Beijing’s Central Academy of Fine Arts (CAFA) presents “Street Art: a global view,” which runs through August 21. Jointly curated by Tang Hui and Magda Danysz, this is China’s first comprehensive exhibition about the development of international street art.

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Street artists are gaining international acclaim as their works make their way from street murals to the white walls of galleries and reputable museums around the world. Some artists are even attaining high prices at auctions and becoming household names — Banksy, Shepard Fairey, Space Invader, and JR, who has recently taken over the Louvre in Paris with a new installation, are but a few examples. Recognising its influence, Christie’s even presented a collecting guide on how to approach and invest in the medium.

More: http://encn.blouinartinfo.com/news/story/1444976/beijing-hosts-first-international-street-art-exhibition-in

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The Aga Khan Museum’s collection includes a travelogue of a prominent Chinese Islamic scholar

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The Chao Jin Tu Ji is the travelogue of Ma Fuchu (Image via AKDN /  Aga Khan Museum Online Gallery) The Chao Jin Tu Ji is the travelogue of Ma Fuchu (Image via AKDN / Aga Khan Museum Online Gallery)

The earliest Muslims in China were traders who came to the south eastern ports as part of the Indian Ocean trade as well as along the Silk Route, an ancient network of routes stretching for over six thousand miles from China across Central Asia to the Middle East and the Mediterranean. Muslims of China are generally divided into two groups: the first group consists of descendants of Arab, Persian, Central Asian, and Mongol traders who married Chinese women and settled in small communities around a central mosque – they are known as the Hui. Culturally and historically diverse, the largest concentration of Hui can be found in northwestern China. The second group consists of Muslims belonging to minority groups whose homelands are located in the territories of the former Soviet…

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The history of silk – http://www.fromental.co.uk/craftsmanship/the-history-of-silk/

According to Chinese legend, Empress His Ling Shi was first person to discover silk as weavable fibre in the 27th century BC. Whilst sipping tea under a mulberry tree, a cocoon fell into her cup and began to unravel. The empress became so enamoured with the shimmering threads she discovered their source, the Bombyx mori silkworm found in the white mulberry. The empress soon developed sericulture, the cultivation of silkworms, and invented the reel and loom. This is the earliest surviving reference to silk history and for nearly 3 millennia, the Chinese retained a global monopoly on silk production.

Initially first reserved for Chinese royalty, silk spread gradually through the Chinese culture both geographically and socially. From there, silken garments began to reach regions throughout Asia. Silk rapidly became a popular luxury fabric in the many areas accessible to Chinese merchants, because of its texture and lustre. 

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During the later half of the first millennium BC, demand for this exotic fabric eventually created the lucrative trade route now known as the Silk Road, taking silk westward and bringing gold, silver and wools to the East. Named after its most valuable commodity, silk was considered even more precious than gold. The Chinese realized the value of this beautiful material they were producing and kept its secret safe from the rest of the world for more than 30 centuries.

By CE200, sericulture had spread to Korea via Chinese immigrants, emerging in India, Japan and Persia around CE300 and reaching Europe around CE550 via the Byzantine Empire. In the 7th century, the Arabs conquered Persia, capturing their magnificent silks in the process. Sericulture and silk weaving thus spread through Africa, Sicily, and Spain as the Arabs swept through these lands. Andalusia was Europe’s main silk-producing center in the 10th century.
By the 13th century however, Italy had gained dominance and entered the hall of fame in silk history. By the 17th Century, France was challenging Italy’s leadership, and the silk looms established in the Lyons area at that time are still famous today for the unique beauty of their weaving.
In Medieval Europe, silk was used only by the nobility.

The nineteenth century and industrialization saw the downfall of the European silk industry. Cheaper Japanese silk, especially driven by the opening of the Suez Canal, was one of the many factors driving the trend as was the advent of manmade fibre, such as nylon which replaced traditionally silk products such as stockings and parachutes.

Japan became the world’s biggest producer of raw silk until China recaptured her position in the 1970’s. Today, around 125,000 metric tons of silk is produced in the world. Almost two thirds of that production takes place in China.

Producing high quality silk (sericulture) is a lengthy, complex process that demands constant close attention and the Chinese have perfected this over the centuries. China is committed to continually elevate its quality by investing in the latest manufacturing machinery.

Original text from: http://www.fromental.co.uk/craftsmanship/the-history-of-silk/

A Lost Purple Pigment, Where Quantum Physics and the Terracotta Warriors Collide by Allison Meier on December 17, 2014

The connection between contemporary quantum physics and China’s ancient Terracotta Warriors is a lost pigment called Han purple. The vibrant hue appeared in the Zhou dynasty and faded out sometime near 220 AD; art didn’t see a purple as vivid until 19th-century manufacturing.

Han purple has strange properties, particularly at low temperature points. Back in 2006, researchers at Stanford, Los Alamos National Laboratory, and the Institute for Solid State Physics described this phenomenon as a “Flatland.” When exposed to extremely low temperatures, magnetic waves going through the pigment lose their third dimension. Recently Esther Inglis-Arkell at io9 returned to this research, explaining:

At higher temperatures, it propagates like a regular wave, traveling in three dimensions. Get under one degree Kelvin, and it no longer has a vertical component. It propagates in two dimensions only.

This fluctuating state of matter, likely caused by the pigment’s diversely layered barium copper silicate structure, isn’t seen often. We’ve examined obsolete pigments at Hyperallergic before, whether a brown made of actual mummies or poisonous arsenic greens. Han purple is one of the first known synthetic pigments, and its rarity made it a powerful color.

This is where the Terracotta Warriors come in, as the Qin dynasty funerary army retains traces of the color (although its hues largely oxidized after exhumation). Some have speculated that the purple came via the Silk Road, with information from Egypt and its famous blue traveling the distance; however, at Symmetry, a particle physics online magazine, Lori Ann White writes: “Researchers discovered that Chinese pigment-makers used lead to lower the melting point of the barium in Han Purple, a step not taken in the production of Egyptian Blue.” She goes on to say that glass makers “in ancient China may have stumbled on Han Purple while trying to develop a jade-like glass, a process that also involved lead.”

The peculiar Han purple, sourced from a byproduct and with its two-dimensional properties, may also have a brand new technological purpose: some scientists are looking to the research on it to help inform the process of building quantum computers.

Tagged as: art and science, art history, China, Terracotta Warriors

From: http://hyperallergic.com/165493/a-lost-purple-pigment-where-quantum-physics-and-the-terracotta-warriors-collide/?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Any+Art+You+Make+Can+and+Will+Be+Used+Against+You&utm_content=Any+Art+You+Make+Can+and+Will+Be+Used+Against+You+CID_df927f6f9b1b6b9dba877bc9d7484a60&utm_source=HyperallergicNewsletter&utm_term=A%20Lost%20Purple%20Pigment%20Where%20Quantum%20Physics%20and%20the%20Terracotta%20Warriors%20Collide

The Terracotta Warriors in China (photo by Kevin Poh/Flickr)
The Terracotta Warriors in China (photo by Kevin Poh/Flickr)

A Man’s Portraits Over 60 Years, Set Against the Backdrop of a Changing China by Julia Friedman on December 3, 2014

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In 2007, Chinese photography collector Tong Bingxue received a phone call from a man seeking an appraisal for a recently purchased book of photo portraits. As Tong recounts in A Life in Portraits, a quick examination of the book revealed a startlingly unique, unified subject: one man’s yearly portrait, taken faithfully and consecutively from 1907 until his death in 1968. Tong purchased the album and set about researching its subject.

Tong’s inquiries revealed that the man in the pictures was Ye Jinglu, born on October 6, 1881, in the city of Fuzhou. With the exception of some travel to London as a young man, Ye spent the majority of his life in Fuzhou, working as a shop manager and businessman. In 1907, at the age of 27 and newly married, he began his habit of taking an annual portrait.

Each photo is both a snapshot of the maturation of one man and an indicator of the rapid political changes occurring in China, making for a series with a remarkable tension. The first portrait, from 1907, marks the final years of the Qing Dynasty (1644–1912). Ye wears an outfit typical for men of that time. Five years later, in 1912, his hair is short — he no longer wears a braided pigtail, a change perhaps indicative of the fall of the Qing Dynasty and the 1912 beginning of the Republic of China under president Sun-Yat Sen. Tong speculates that Ye’s 1949 portrait also offers a political reference: he appears seated, reading the newspaper in a style that alludes to a revolutionary photo of Mao reading the paper. By Ye’s 1950 portrait he has donned a “Lenin cap,” a style popularized by its namesake.

“To watch a person change over time can trick us into thinking we share an intimacy,” wrote Susan Minot in the New York Times Magazine about photographer Nicholas Nixon’s yearly, serialized portrait series The Brown Sisters. Looking at Ye’s pictures offers viewers the same moving, if illusionary, experience — the sense that we’ve witnessed a life passing by, as well as, in this case, the life of a country.