adventures in a missed flight

Today I had an exciting new experience: I missed a flight. Oh my gracious goodness. First time for everything, right? And I’m normally so responsible! So here’s a photo essay to document the experience. Because I have lots of time to kill before my rescheduled flight.

My flight was scheduled for 8:25 AM, and lately I’ve been too busy to prepare, so I decided to stay up to pack and grab a taxi at 5ish. I closed my eyes for a second and the next thing I know, it’s 7 AM. Whups. Threw stuff in my suitcase, ran out the door, and hailed a taxi. It’s about an hour’s drive, so it was obvious I wasn’t going to make it, but in case there was another morning flight, I thought getting to the airport ASAP was priority.

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In the cab I called the travel agent, and when I was told there were no flights until the afternoon, I had the taxi stop at Twosome Coffee instead, because coffee makes everything better. Newly opened on Taixing Road, between West Nanjing Road and Wujiang Road, it’s located in a great location next door to Cachet Boutique, which is a nice boutique hotel I’ve been working with. The coffee was pretty good, I had an Americano … because I’m patriotic like that.

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Was waiting for the agent to call back with availability, and decided to once again head to the airport, this time taking the Line 2 metro, which is slower than a cab but cheaper. On the train they called and I booked a new ticket leaving at 3 PM.

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I was already way far out in Pudong at that point, so it would’ve ridiculous to go home to wait just to come back an hour later. I arrived at the Pudong International Airport at about 10:30 AM.

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Check in wouldn’t start until 12:30, so I chilled. Wandered around the few snack shops and bookstores.

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Ended up at Burger King even though I had BK for dinner last night … not many options for food outside security. Tried their chili cheese fries, aka Cheese and Spicy Beef Sauce French Fries. There wasn’t enough sauce for the amount of fries and the sauce was too sweet, but they were decent enough and today’s a day for new experiences.

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The check-in process was easy enough, but since I only have a carry-on with me, I much would’ve preferred to use a kiosk, but alas, China Southern Airlines isn’t that technologically advanced.

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Then there was customs, which I breezed through like a boss. I’m so glad they’ve gotten over the whole taking off your shoes part of the screening process! I’m by no means a frequent flier, but I’ve flown enough to know how to get through without getting stopped, having anything confiscated, or beeping in metal detectors – lessons that were hard learned (ah, my favorite embroidery scissors … I’m sorry I had to abandon you in Xi’an!).

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After the security check I still had over an hour, so I browsed the duty free shops.

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And the other duty free shops.

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And the others too. Might as well, right?

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And wandered up and down the terminal. What did I find? More gates – yawn.

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Finally I sat down at my assigned gate, took a deep breath, and opened my suitcase. Wow that was a mess. When I say I threw things in this morning, I wasn’t kidding. And yep, I forgot my toiletries bag. Sigh.

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A gate change brought me to the lower level … which is the same area I waited in on my way to Hong Kong and to Tokyo. Huh.

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Boarding! Ciao! And only six and a half hours behind schedule. It’s been fun (not really)!

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dear ikea, I hate you

I’ve always had a love-hate relationship with Ikea. The value! The range! The actually decent quality and design! But then there’s the crowds! The ridiculously long path! And today, the lack of things in stock!

It’s been a long few weeks. I’m exhausted and overwhelmed with work, but the other night I decided to stop by Ikea after work to pick up a few things. It’s pretty out of my way, but I’m swamped with stuff most evenings and weekends and I always overestimate how much I’m going to enjoy an Ikea trip. It was supposed to be a quick trip, so I decided to enter through the checkouts and loop around the marketplace in order to avoid the showroom. I wanted to pick up four things. Three were out of stock. Argh. I was so frustrated at that point I just said “screw it” and dropped my yellow bag with one item in a corner.

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Then I did what any normal person would do in such an unfortunate situation. I got myself some consolation Swedish meatballs at the restaurant. And the meatballs were overcooked. Sigh. Seriously, Ikea? Seriously?! Right now I hate you, Ikea. Not ready to forgive you yet.

how to kill an art fair in 10 easy steps

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It’s been a busy month for art fairs in Shanghai! First there was Photo Shanghai, then SH Contemporary and Art in the City, and now West Bund Art & Design. Photo Shanghai and Art in the City were both successes. West Bund Art & Design is bound to be a success. SH Contemporary? Well … that was a nightmare I would much rather forget … if only I could.

So, because I’m still incredibly annoyed by how the whole thing went down, here’s a guide how to kill an art fair in 10 easy steps, as learned from SH Contemporary. After the debacle that SH Contemporary was, I’m pretty sure it’s dead. Actually, I’m pretty sure it died before the fair started but the organizers decided to prop it up, slap some make-up on it, and continue on as if nothing was wrong despite the obvious smell of decay so they could avoid refunding everyone. Does that sound morbid? Well, it was a pretty depressing affair.


Here goes (in no particular order):

1. Avoid media like the plague. Communication? Social media? Press mentions? Not necessary. Why on earth would you want to publicize an art fair? If you are approached by media or industry people who want to promote your event and bring in high-level clientele, feel free to ignore them.

2. Give your exhibitors exercise in extreme runaround and futility. After you collect their tens of thousands of RMB, feel free to waste their time. Make them fill out lots of information (VIP lists, exhibited works, catalogue information), harp on them for not filling things out properly, then promptly ignore it all.

3. Stall. See how much mileage you can get out of the phrase “in a few days” or “let me check on that and get back to you.” Over a month without offering any response? Congratulations, you’re winning!

4. Allow rumors to run rampant. A few weeks before opening, have a curator quit. A few days before the opening, have people saying that the fair might be canceled. Instruct staff to stonewall exhibitors with a form message and have organizers pretend like nothing’s wrong. That way the art world can bring out its catty claws and turn into a giant gossiping machine and spread even more rumors about the people in charge. That’s sure to burn all your reputations.

5. Respond to complaints with “If you don’t like it, quit.” Customer service is totes overrated.

6. Sell admission tickets for 120 RMB, over twice the price of tickets for the better organized and publicized fair that happened at the same location the week before – that’ll ensure low attendance!

7. Don’t update your website. Keep up information from two years ago and include no information on the current exhibitors. And during the fair (and even after), keep the giant “Apply Now” button on the main page. That’s sure to confuse everyone!

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8. Turn in the licensing paperwork to the government way beyond the deadline. That way, behind-the-scenes foreign consular intervention will be required, entangling even more people into the headache. Oh, and this way, once the fair is finally confirmed, there won’t be enough time for works imported from abroad to get cleared by customs (3 days required) and you can have lots of empty walls for the VIP opening and have some booths installing during the first day of the fair! Visitors to an art fair love being bombarded with sounds of drilling and hammering, right?

9. Allow an inexperienced Italian with insignificant connections in China to run a fair … in China. Fill support staff positions with well-meaning but woefully inexperienced Chinese who have no idea how an art fair works. And have an English-only catalogue … in China. Basically, ignore the fact that this is supposed to be a substantial art fair in a major city and instead treat it like an afterthought that is beneath you.

10. Don’t allow exhibitors to sell any works at the art fair. At the fair, right before the opening, tell all the gallerists who paid tens of thousands of RMB that even though they signed up to participate in an art fair, they’re actually only participating in an exhibition rather than a commercial event. That’s sure to piss off all those gallerists to the point where they’ll form an extremely active WeChat group to very passionately discuss legal action against you!


Heads got chopped at the conclusion of the fair, but it seems like the people whose heads should’ve been chopped managed to escape the guillotine, while those who actually tried to help got scapegoated. There was some great artwork on display, but only because there were some good galleries attending. The organization of the fair was abysmal so attendance and sales were much lower than expected. The booth fee and transportation costs added up to a sizable chunk of change (and I can’t even imagine how much the international galleries ended up shilling out), but in all honesty, it’s not just about the money. Each gallery put in so much effort, that to have the organizers treat us so disrespectfully and completely drop the ball was extremely gutting. So yeah, I’m still steaming.

clowns, color, and more clowns

Clowns. Lots and lots of clowns. Are you afraid of clowns? Let’s hope not.

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Over at the Rockbund Art Museum, there’s a trippy new solo exhibition by Swiss artist Ugo Rondinone called Breathe Walk Die. It’s part performance art and part installation, with 40 people dressed as clowns seated, lying down, or reposing against railings and columns. The bright gradient walls and circular paintings of the museum’s four main gallery floors complete the bulk of the exhibition.

I wouldn’t say I have a particular phobia about clowns, but … there’s something about the falseness of a clown, that supposed ‘harbinger of happiness’ that makes me uncomfortable. It’s just too fake; there just has to be something supremely dark and twisty underneath it all. The exhibition is pretty cool though. It’s just … oy. Clowns.

Ugo Rondinone: Breathe Walk Die
September 13, 2014 – January 4, 2015

Rockbund Art Museum
rockbundartmuseum.org
20 Huqiu Road, Huangpu District, Shanghai
Tuesdays to Sundays, 10 AM – 6 PM

suspended: frames that don’t frame

Ay, so much art stuff going on in Shanghai these days! Pearl Lam has a new exhibition up and it’s pretty neat. It’s a solo show by Turkish artist Mehmet Ali Uysal and his Suspended Series of Dali-esque ‘melted’ frames hung on the wall, on hooks, or on hangers is simply amazing.

Ornate gilded frames were once de rigueur for highbrow art, but you will very rarely see such an ostentatious frame on a contemporary piece. Uysal’s polyester works twist and warp these frames’ forms, robbing them of their rigidity. With no structure and no art to border, they hang there forlornly, taking on ‘object’ status and themselves becoming the works they were meant to enhance. Amazing.

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Mehmet Ali Uysal, Suspended Series, 2014

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Mehmet Ali Uysal, Suspended Series/Meat, 2014

Mehmet Ali Uysal: The Past
September 1 – November 15, 2014

Pearl Lam Galleries
pearllam.com
G/F, 181 Middle Jiangxi Road
Huangpu District, Shanghai
Monday to Sunday, 10:30 AM – 7 PM

‘the equinox’ at moma (tbt)

From last summer at MoMA: seven sculptures grouped together in an installation called The Equinox by Swiss-born American artist Carol Bove. Technically The Equinox is an arrangement rather than an installation (id est, an exhibition rather than a work in itself). When I first walked into the room and saw it I was like … what am I looking at?  The sculptures aren’t impressive ‘wow’ kind of pieces, but there were a serene, beautiful kind of harmony. And I’m a sucker for modernism.

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Carol Bove, The Equinox (installation view and detail), 2013

mr & mrs bund at night

I’m not what one would call a ‘gourmet’ or ‘foodie’. I could eat macaroni and cheese all week. That being said, I do appreciate good food. And Mr & Mrs Bund is real good food.

After 11 PM, they do set late night dinners, which are quite the steal considering their normal prices. I chose the two-course set, with smoked salmon (appetizer) and steak with béarnaise sauce (main), with mashed potatoes (side). Oh my gosh. Heaven. Just wonderful. I often find French food too pretentious, but this was simply delicious.

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I’ve heard it gets quite crowded, but on a rainy summer Thursday night around midnight, my group of four was seated immediately. However, due to the rain we couldn’t check out the terrace, which I’ve heard has quite the view since the restaurant is located on the Bund and all. Quite pricey (I ended up paying about 250 RMB), but a fantastic ending to a girls’ night. All in all, a great special occasion or impress people place.

Mr & Mrs Bund
mmbund.com
Bund 18, 6/F, 18 Zhongshan East 1st Road
Huangpu District, Shanghai
Daily, 5:30 – 10:30 PM
Thursday to Saturday, 11 PM – 2 AM