Friday, June 25, 2010
Giving us another reason to love John Körmeling's Happy Street at the Shanghai Expo even more is this nighttime photo of the Dutch pavilion taken by Dan Hill, of City of Sound. With its hodgepodge collection of ostensibly detachable modules all crazily lit up, this instant city looks like a mini-Shanghai crossed with a mini-Tokyo or Amsterdam genetically modified with a 24-hour shopping mall and Blade Runner. We know we shouldn't be judging things just by their photos, but those Christmas lights spiraling down the columns make the other pavilions look joyless. Just check out this yawn-a-rama.
One half-expects that flanking that fluorescent Happy Street are cybercafes where the local mafia farm for World of Warcraft gold, McDonald's serving dim sums, noodle shops, sushi bars, hot pot dining halls, ping pong halls, laundromats, capsule hotels, Youth Hostels, pieds-à-terre, dormitories where college students and migrant workers from Shanxi province cram into multi-level bunk beds, bookstores selling rare editions of books that survived the bonfires of the Cultural Revolution alongside copies of Mao's Quotations, Chinese apothecaries, mobile phone repair shops, e-waste recycling sweatshops, antique shops filled with Ming ceramics of questionable provenance, an IMAX 3D movie theater, chapels for Western-style white weddings, Falun Gong secret meditation rooms next door to a non-government sanctioned Catholic church, brothels, acupuncture centers, discothèques, coin-operated pissoirs, Chinese shadow puppet theaters, a landscape architecture studio, haberdasheries where tourists can get outfitted with a Mao suit in just a couple of hours, Michelin 3-starred restaurants, travel agencies, car dealerships, a planetarium, a synagogue, a Freemason lodge, an abattoir, an Apple Store selling iPhone knockoffs, bootleg DVDs and dumplings, a miniature golf course and a miniature football pitch, Buddhist temples, tattoo parlors, Starbucks, AC cooling centers, bôiteries, karaoke bars, oxygen bars that always fill up whether or not there's a smog alert or a sandstorm, the venue for Postopolis! Shanghai, fabulous ballrooms for drag shows, hot-body contests, mock same-sex weddings, Chinese opera performances and the Miss Transgender China beauty pageant, detention centers for human rights campaigners, fishmongers, tea houses, calligraphy schools, English language schools, high schools, gao kao preparation night schools where students hook up to oxygen tanks in the hopes of increasing their concentration, National Ethnic Minority Theme Houses, fully immersive Cave Automatic Virtual Environments (or CAVEs), H&Ms, Zen-inspired spas, hipster boutiques, white guy rental agencies, expat watering holes, organ harvesting clinics, sanitariums, orphanages, missionaries, branches of the Louvre, the Guggenheim and the Tate, satellite campuses of the world's leading universities, studio spaces in which guests for A Date with Luyu are interviewed via satellite, Dance Dance Revolution arcades, crematoriums, grottos, betting shops, bakeries, abortion clinics and a cinema that plays all the films of Jia Zhanke all the time.
The Dutch Pavilion at Expo 2010 Shanghai