Woke up to a dry heat in the room and went down to breakfast, which was simple and not exactly hotel standard. But we would gradually learn to readjust in the days to come. By the time we finished eating Karma was already waiting for us at the door. Continue reading →
Our tour guide’s name is Karma (I thought it was a girl’s name) and he’s a strong, dark-skinned man with keen round eyes. The sun must have been unkind to his skin, for at 36 he looks older than his age, especially with the wrinkles around his eyes. When he speaks he places a strong accent on every other syllable, making him sound somewhat too keen and serious. He presented me with the white silk scarf called karta, and told me that I had to put it round my neck myself ‘cos he was not a monk. Continue reading →
Came across this old photo of a lady of the Qing Dynasty, probably of minor ethnicity. Love her composure, the composition, the setting and the reflection of the photographer in the mirror. The large words on the tapestry say “scrupulous in principle matters”
‘You see here? It’s part of a graffiti work,’ explained my friend while showing me her collection of fridge magnets from around the world. ‘A shame it isn’t the entire piece and I can’t tell what the message was sprayed on the wall. But I imagine it’s something to do with freedom and taking down the wall.’ She was holding a piece of concrete with faded paint on one side and mounted to a magnet on the other. A small plaque attached underneath says ‘Berlin Wall fragment’, indicating its origin and history.
How apt, I thought, that a genre born out of the countercultural movement to dismantle the wall between art institutions and popular culture becomes the face of a wall whose symbolic power resides in its demolition. And how interesting, that despite the historic fall, the wall’s power to separate still defines the existence of street art today.