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Sino-Dutch creativity
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Close Encounters - Dutch on Stage, at the National Center for the Performing Arts, will have artists, designers and filmmakers showcasing some creative results of the dynamic Sino-Dutch exchange.

For example, Chinese artist Ni Haifeng's photos, videos and installations draw attention to the cyclical undercurrents in people's lives, reflecting patterns of colonialism and globalization.

Ni belongs to an early generation of Chinese experimental artists active in the mid-1980s. He now divides his time between Amsterdam and Beijing. A lot of his works center on the relationship between material production and consumption as can be seen from the display Para-Production at JoyArt in the 798 Art District.

This large-scale installation has a gigantic piece of cloth that hangs from the ceiling to the ground. It stretches for some distance to an array of sewing machines, which stand in front of a huge pile of wasted shreds. However, the work does not show the completion of the cloth's journey.

Unlike his previous creations, Ni shows labor's appearance and disappearance in Para-Production, and focuses on the social aesthetics of manufacturing.

Meiya Lin, 29, an artist from South China who also works in Amsterdam, is a keen observer of society. Her upcoming solo exhibition Staging Reality, although not a Close Encounters event, celebrates the fruitful cooperation between the two countries.

Lin studied visual arts for two years at Sandberg Institute, Amsterdam, and has exhibited at many art schools at home and abroad. "The Netherlands employs a complete artistic system, which helps cultivate artists from a very young age. The country accords high respect to art and culture," she says.

Her video works will examine the attempt by urban residents to believe in a better life. The show will be held at the C5 Art gallery in Sanlitun next month.

The Netherlands is also well known for its design ideas. The Social Energy exhibition, running at the Today Art Museum from Nov 2 to 21, will have more than 300 graphic designs, books, maps, games and animations. A seminar will discuss Chinese design in a transitional period and the negative impact of globalization on the world design industry.

"When I was a little boy, I often heard a Dutch proverb that went, 'God made the Earth, but the Dutch made Holland'. This captures effectively the pioneering spirit of Dutch design," says Wang Min, dean of the School of Design, Central Academy of Fine Arts.

The exhibition has already toured Shanghai, Chengdu and Shenzhen.

"Social Energy is not an ordinary show. It is by far the biggest exhibition of Dutch design. It is a document of design," says Wang, one of the organizers.

In his lifetime, the Dutch documentary filmmaker Joris Ivens (1898-1989) made four films and documentaries about China, which have greatly influenced his Chinese counterparts. Beijing Normal University will hold an international academic conference on "Fifty Years of Joris Ivens and China" from Nov 18 to 20 to commemorate his 110th birthday.

Close Encounter highlights in December:

Women of the World, presented by Beijing Modern Dance Company and Anouk van Dijk on Dec 5, 6, and 7 at Tianqiao Theater.

The Netherlands is a partner country of the Business of Design Week in Hong Kong from Dec 8 to 13, at the Hong Kong Convention & Exhibition Center.

(China Daily October 29, 2008)

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