Last week I took a little time out with a particularly popular Chinese past time- photos. For me, photos are a great way of sharing memories and remembering the places and people most important to us. As many of you will know, I pretty much hate photos of myself and therefore there are usually very few of them- fortunately the scenery around me is often much better. Over the last year or so, I have been getting better, being less reluctant with people and even engaging in the era of the ‘selfie’- a cheeky snapshot of yourself in just about any situation. To put a spin on that, you may remember the spin-off ‘Maoie’ ‘Wallie’ and ‘Warrie’ from blogs on Beijing, the Great Wall and Xian respectively.
After seeing these, it’s not a massive wonder why I don’t like the camera, and an even better insight into why the camera doesn’t like me!!
The Chinese, however, must have around a third of all of the photos of me in one form or another. Usually there are several requests in bus stations, outside schools and even as I’m eating dinner. The almost celebrity-style attraction to foreigners in this city is quite astonishing considering that there are many around, but naturally it is a step down from the fame that I generally receive in Europe. Travelling somewhere is a chore sometimes but if it is what the people want, I can take one for the team, be called ‘handsome’ and deal with it…
So, after all this complaining, it may come as a surprise that I voluntarily went to a 3D art gallery where I was to be part of the set. A selection of incomplete scenes are laid out, requiring the visitors to become part of the fun-filled setting.
Despite the fact that most of the scenes are fairly mild to western tastes, the idea of having your head stuck in the toilet was far too wacky for the Chinese contingent, so I had to be the one to go. I went a little too far and ended up with my upper body around the u-bend, though.
Places like this give a chance for what is generally a fairly conservative country and people to go wild and let loose. I hate to generalise a people like this, but please do bear with me! Chinese people’s sense of adventure and mischief is largely more immature that what westerners may think is edgy. For example, instead of playing a card game for money, gambling is replaced with some sort of forfeit. Typically, this would be slightly mean or even evil at home, like running round the garden in your underpants (or worse), but here it may be sing a song for 5 seconds. The sense of tame is read differently.
Similarly, at the exhibition, wild was pictures such as this, with several of my friends blushing and refusing to do it:
Interestingly, some of the works were quite novel and tested the creativity of both artist and visitor alike. It is fair to say that the work with depth perception was cleverest and illusion was really the key for most of them. I took a while to sit with some French 19th Century Madames to discuss that very issue but they seemed a little flat.
Most of the pieces were, naturally, surreal and were completely inspired by an impish sense of fun and the devious. I was left me dreaming of long-sought-after riches and even the complication of removing a friend from a particularly awkward situation. It often happens when you are least suspecting…
I eventually had to call an end to proceedings in favour of the nearest hospital, when this happened….
All in all, however, a pretty different view of the Changchun scene, with good company to boot.
But I still don’t like photos, for the record.