Everything has been so fast paced in the last couple of months. When starting the semester at MIADA (Modern International Arts & Design Academy) I planned on settling in, learning the language, focusing on teaching and kicking back with some leisure activities around Chongqing City while eating my way through the Chinese culture. But my expectations have been overruled by the reality, which turns out to be much more complex. It is almost like traveling: I meet new people and experience new things every day. The element of novelty doesn’t seem to be fading at all. I wouldn’t be able to tell you where you will be finding me next week… A few weeks ago I was at Wulong National Park and one week later I was at a TEDx Event. So much to do, so much to blog about…
The final exhibition graduates
Teaching at MIADA is reaching its climax. The final exhibition and graduation presentations are due in a few days. Lots of last minute stress, paperwork and mixed emotions while saying goodbye to 2nd year Graphic 2 and 1st year Visual Communication 3 soon.
2nd year Graphic 2 students will have a tough exam period, because I foresee some of them will be failing. I don’t like it, but it’s part of the job. In this group, you have a display of all types of typical student attitudes, from lazy to blazed, to quite ones or loud mouthed ones. I’ll take them all with their perks and fails, as long as the work they deliver is up to standards. And for some of them, it isn’t.
On the other end, 1st year Visual Communication 3 is my favorite class so far. We have such a positive exchange of energy, and that reflects in their commitment and behavior towards me. They work hard and are respectful without holding out on their energy and input. There’s some good Karma flowing in this class.
I am also meeting the new Visual Communication 4 class which seem quiet, but eager. I hope to be able to gain their attention and trust as well, so we can work openly and with enjoyment.
CQ Media visit
The first company what has to do with art, design, or media in general is a news media agency. Just near the airport. Kaykay one of the translaters friends took me to CQ Media (Chongqing Media). Kaykay’s wife is working there as senior manager. One of her collegues was guiding me through the building because Kaykay’s wife was busy (as always) and told me about different departments and branches. At CQ Media 500 people are working at different departments and branches. And I even saw half of it. They have their own film studio to film interviews. I slso talk with some people like the editors. Especially the editors make long days because news goes rapidly. Also in the weekends and at nighttime. The news itself goes first though the branche were it belongs and you have several layers including the government layer what’s actually approve to share the information. It’s nice, however it’s not allowed to make some pictures inside, to see such kind of media agency.
Teaching and Tutor at Sichuan Fine Arts Institute
Remember my last blog when I went to Sichuan Fine Arts Institute (SFAI)? Well, meeting the graduation students and some key people at the Institute developed into me being asked to give some workshops on advanced creative thinking to the best talents of the 2nd year.
It was a premiere undertaking, inviting a foreign teacher to give an all English workshop at the Institute. My Dutch accent was a little tricky to understand every now and then, because both the students and the teachers at the Institute don’t use their English skills on a daily basis. Their English was good, but it took some focusing on my part to understand their accent as well.
The first workshop took off with a slow start because it was a first time for everybody, including myself. I asked them to create a briefing by themselves which proved to be quite challenging, even for students of the SFAI. Their usual way of working is to focus on one or two ideas, under very (very!) close guidance of their teacher. I challenged their patterns with my different teaching manners. Without questioning their multi-disciplinary skills, I invited them to think from different angles.
A couple of days after the first workshop, I received loads of awesome work to review by email. And the second workshop went a lot smoother. The assignment was similar, but they had to work in groups. Like Victor (my teacher contact at Sichuan Fine Arts Institute) had predicted, the students picked up my lead very fast, and knew what to do.
The third workshop focused on ideas and concept development. Some of the work resulted from these workshops will be exhibited as part of the graduation portfolio of the students.
I picked up some very good energy at the Sichuan Fine Arts and loads of talent.
Opening Contemporary Dutch Photography Still Life
I visited the Contemporary Dutch Photography Still Life opening bij Marcel Feil, a friend of Erwins Slegers. Erwin is an adviser at the MIADA. He is also the head of design at the HKU (Hogeschool van de Kunsten) in Utrecht, the Netherlands. I met Erwin Slegers and his girlfriend a couple of weeks ago.
Marcel Feil is the director and curator of the photography museum (FOAM) in Amsterdam. The exposition was a joint venture of FOAM and The Galaxy Museum of Contemporary Art.
The Director of the museum and Consul G. Tielman of the Dutch Embassy gave opening speeches. The photography was amazing, some better than the rest. I’m more fan of black and white photography or minimalistic photography with gentile accents of color.
I had no idea there were so many Dutch people out here.
The day after the photography exposition, I met a lot of the same people at the TEDx Chongqing Salon event. This was the first TEDx for me in general, so I was curious about the people attending and talks that would be held. With the Netherlands being the President of the EU for six months, the headline of the event was the Dutch – Chinese relationship and the EU/Dutch – Chinese relationship.
Presentations and TED talks
There were seven speakers in total, five of whom talked in English, and two in Chinese. The first speaker was Robert Kooij, with a presentation about networking software he developed. The second speaker was Tabitha Speelman, talking about the experiences of young people (Chinese and European) and their vision on the EU. Although of Dutch origins, Tabitha held her entire presentation in Chinese. I can’t judge if she was doing a good job at it or not, but it was very impressive anyway. The third speaker was Reinout van Malenstein, talking about Intellectual Property rights (IP) in China. Marta Pozo was the fourth speaker. She was of Spanish origins but spent a long time in the Netherlands. Her presentation was about the (dis)advantages of urban planning integrated in the environment, in both China and the Netherlands. The fifth speaker was professor Dhongzu, a long term resident of the Netherlands. He also spoke about urban planning and the environmental use of architecture. Marcel Feil, the sixth speaker – whom I had met the day before at the photography exposition – talked about his photography project in high schools in the Netherlands and other parts of Europe. In his vision, the social behavior of teenagers nowadays mirrors the political behavior of countries.
The last speaker was Vincent Chang, a Dutch guy with Chinese roots who shared interesting stories about the connection between Chongqing and the Netherlands, and the historical and cultural crossings between the two. His story followed the trail back from the Netherlands to Chongqing during the Japanese occupation in WW2, while Chongqing was the War Capital.
It was a really interesting afternoon as I learned about the many connections between the Netherlands an Chongqing. The TEDx Event took place in the very beautiful building of the Arts & Media Center in Chongqing. I have to visit the museum next time!
I will be getting involved in the next TEDx Event, which will be for Chinese speakers only. I advised the organization to use Palantype (speech to text devices) instead of oral translators. This way, they will be able to provide live captioning / subtitles during a TED talk.
I met many of these people again for King’s Day in the Three Gorges Museum. I saw an amazing photography exhibition of Chongqing interiors by Robert van der Hilst. The event was organized by the Dutch Consulate who also wished farewell to the Dutch Consul G. Tielman and his wife.