Chinese New Year festival started in Sydney on the 24th of January and will carry on all the way till the 9th of February 2014. There is still time left for everyone to follow my adventure of conduct their own, exploring Chinese world.
Chinese immigration to Sydney dates back almost two hundred years, with Mak Sai Ying being the first recorded settler in Australia. The 2006 census showed that 221,995 people (5.39%) in Sydney reported Mandarin or Cantonese as the language they used at home.
Therefore I’ve decided to devote couple of days of my life to learning a little more about my Chinese neighbors in Sydney. And I don’t mean my Inner West neighbors but the people I share my favorite city on Earth with, Sydney.
I started my Chines New Year’s wonder rather contemporary with a Japanese tint to it. Yes that’s right; I visited Sydney Contemporary Museum of Art which has been my favorite art spot since my arrival in 2008.
Being confident that the new exhibition ‘The War is Over’ by Yoko Ono was a part of the Chinese festival I didn’t even hesitate to give my (almost last one) $20 away for the privilege of witnessing my ignorance and naivety playing up. I am glad it happened! ‘The War is Over’ is the iconic Yoko Ono and John Lennon’s cry for freedom and change. Moreover ‘The War Is Over’ is a song by American recording artist Kelly Clarkson. You live you learn!
This event threw me back to the years I’ve never been to – the 60s. Yoko Ono illustrated it all: the rebels, the end of the war, the Japanese bombing, the sexual explicitly, the search of freedom, and even drugs and rock n roll with some sky puddles.
Whatever my peers would usually find odd, inappropriate and out of context was depicted in her exhibition. I felt incredibly welcome, of course (giggling)!
There was it all: a short film of moving bum cheeks (BOTTOMS), stripping with the help of scissors (CUT PIECE) and doors with sky puddles (SKY PUDDLES) illustrating her belief that “doors are just a figment of our imagination”. She suggests that barriers only exist in our minds, as much as reality, and we need strength and courage to pass on through it. I guess this is the best definition and representation of modern contemporarily art.
After couple of hours of contemporary absorption I finally headed to China Town, Sydney, to chase lions.
The dragon-looking Chinese lions were slowly walking through the heart of China Town making a lot of noise and igniting small fireworks. Organised by the Dixon Street Chinese Committee, flamboyant and occasionally wicked lion dancing resembled blessing or cursing rituals performed upon the endless shops they were passing by. Although I found it rather odd, it gave me a chance to observe how skillful artists were swapping places and taking turns in this colorful operation. I walked several blocks down the street following the crowd and the dancers, trying to make sense out of the music tune
An hour later I walked back down to Town Hall to attend “Crossing Boundaries” art exhibition.
Let me tell you that it is not a random collaboration of words but the core meaning of the event – crossing the boundaries. All the participating artists were requested to think about the New Year theme, the Year of the horse, incorporating it into their art works, pushing their limits. It didn’t have to be a horse or any close relation to it, said the exhibition organisation, but it had to fit within the Chinese New Year theme. It gave birth to some amazing stories, clever creations and quirky designs. Several pieces caught my special attention.
A man cask made of sewed in together peanuts carries a very personal and dear to the artist story. Although many people found it rather frightening, a man made of peanuts is a story of a little girl whose father used to find his inner comfort smelling earthy raw peanuts.
Is it also scaring you? Well, it should make you feel comfortable and happy!
Right next to it there was a “Noodle Slide” which was initially built to celebrate Chinese New Year in the comfort of the artist’s home.
Original slide was much longer joining more bamboo brunches and inviting the entire neighborhood over for some sliding fun.
There were many contemporary pieces requiring extra help with the interpretation. Luckily the exhibition organiser was right there to walk us through the stories behind the art. I really liked the scale with a piece of gold on one side and stack of fabrics on other one representing the past and the present, in a way.
The artist designed a symbolic scale to show the weight of two different materials being equalized. The artist ancestors were minding gold when first arrived to Australia and of course it was exactly the job you would want to have back a century ago. The young artist now designs clothes and sells it all over the country and overseas, running a very successful fashion business. Regardless her success her grandparents find it too much of a girly deed, not of any real meaning or value.
Here is another special to my eye work – a perfect portrait of a woman with floral painting across the face. The author tried to express her concern with the modern demand of many societies for women to look beautiful (or often ‘perfect’) despite their real, natural look or the way they feel about it.
I believe many of us would feel a very similar way with the make up, fashion industry and modeling booming. No one wants to see us running around in our tore apart undies with no make, not even brushed hair or uncompleted nails, right. This is why I love Tracey Spicer’s talk on TED so much and highly recommend you to go and have a look if you also care as much for this matter as I do.
Alongside with it and many other pieces there were political satire, collages, paintings, sculptures and paper cutting art.
And of course I hope you all were there for the Chinese New Year parade and fireworks in Sydney last week!
Happy New Year of the horse everyone!