Sunday, March 9, 2014
Red, I'm seeing red
My daughter frolics among some sculptures just outside the No. 4 exit from Hóngqiáo Road Station 虹桥路站.
Red Town 红坊国际文化艺术社区 is one of those art spaces converted from former industrial sites that you can find in urban areas throughout North America, Europe and the rest of the developed world as their economies struggle to cope with the transition into a post-manufacturing era. That process is apparently underway as well in China's wealthier metropolises such as Shànghăi 上海, as the city's factories relocate to the suburbs and beyond in order to make way for condos, shopping malls and all the other trappings of affluence. Red Town is a short hop on the Metro from where we live, and the relatively clear skies made it a fun afternoon for us (and Amber, in particular) to check out the outdoor sculptures:
Catching up on the news in the Shanghai Daily with the architect of China's Reform and Opening. Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, give it up for Mr. Dèng Xiăopíng 邓小平!:
The former Shanghai No. 10 Steel factory which used to operate on this site is now home to a sculpture gallery containing several interesting pieces. There's also an onsite bookstore where I ended up purchasing a book on Chinese propaganda posters, which includes such timeless classics as Long live the revolutionary and comradely friendship between the Parties and peoples of China and Albania! and Learn from Comrade Lei Feng:
The Shanghai Sculpture Space 上海城市雕塑艺术中心 is free, as are the various other galleries located in Red Town. Enclaves such as these are welcome additions to China's vast concrete conurbations, but after getting home later this afternoon, I went out for a walk and a dose of reality. Just a few blocks from the gated expatriate oases that populate our area are neighborhoods that have somehow missed out on the opening up of the Chinese economy. Housing stock there is crumbling, while laundry poles and lines protrude from and between buildings. Hand-pulled carts and electrified bikes outnumber automobiles. Businesses and people spill out onto the broken sidewalks. Piles of debris are everywhere, signs that the developers are beginning to move into these areas as well, and it's only a matter of time before the residents are bought out and sent off to the suburbs (or back to their home provinces). Some of the knocked-down homes still show signs of being occupied, and in a couple of them, people are still doing business. The class struggle is over, but the results are not what the artists and slogan writers behind the propaganda posters expected back in the 1950's and 1960's.