The Final Chapter: China Residency, Part 8

By Zoe Sua-Kay (MFA 2014)

After a week in the Chinese capital and having soaked up some of the local culture and scene close to our hotel, we decided it was time to put our tourist hats on and see some of global tourism’s most famous sites – The Forbidden City, the Summer Palace and of course, the Great Wall of China.

The Forbidden City

Probably somewhat unwisely, we chose one of the hottest days we’d yet experienced to explore the Palace. Without trees and with it’s relentless expanses of  brick courtyards we were rarely offered any relief from the glaring sun as we trekked the 3,153 feet from the entrance (Meridian Gate) to the Imperial Gardens at the very end… and back again.

Forbidden City, view from the Meridian Gate.
The Hall of Supreme Harmony

Girl with Chinese head wear
Elliot Purse strikes a pose in the Forbidden City

The Summer Palace

The Summer Palace was a nice contrast to the flat, scorching and exposed layout of the Forbidden City. Located forty minutes from central Beijing by subway, the Palace is arranged over leafy hills and at the bank of the large Kunming Lake.

Lady in an old-fashioned Chinese outfit inside the Summer Palace

View from interior
The following day, and having delayed what we had deemed to be the climax of our cultural education in China, the time had finally come to undertake the epic experience of taking a hike along the Great Wall of China.

Elizabeth Shupe, Elliot Purse and James Adelman on the Great Wall

And what a hike it was!

We had the good fortune of visiting a part of the wall that had only just recently been opened to the public. Thus, we hardly encountered any tourists outside of the group we had gone with. We were able to explore the ancient, unreconstructed sections and happily take photographs without the reputed hoards of tourists at other, more well-known sections of the wall. 
However, this also meant that we had to be on guard of the loose, uneven terrain of the ancient wall. Without any kind of railing (or safety precautions of any kind at all), the possibility of miss-stepping and falling off the steep, isolated wall was imminent. But we made it.

Elliot conquers the wall
Beth conquers the wall
I conquer the wall

James conquers the wall

Last weekend in China


Our final weekend in China was spent with Ian, our guide on the Beijing side. He took us around CAFA’s/China Academy of Fine Art’s museum of ‘Excellent Student Work’. And excellent it was - we all left a little mind boggled (a.k.a downright intimidated) at the quality of work these Chinese undergraduates had produced.

This was followed by lunch down the road from Ai Weiwei’sStudio.

Ai Wei Wei’s studio, exterior view

And finally, a trip to Beijing’s famous 798 Art District, for an opening at Pace Beijing.

A word of sincere thanks.

On behalf of James, Elliot, Beth and myself, I would like to thank everyone who has made this trip possible. It has, with all honesty, been a life changing experience.

While we have now all finally separated to our respective homes, I think my fellow residency compatriots will appreciate the quote I quite simply could not have signed off without:

I've seen things you people wouldn't believe. 
Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion
I watched c-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhäuser Gate. 
All those... moments... will be lost in time, like] tears... in... rain.
- Roy Batty

On May 25, four Academy students arrived in China to start a two-month residency in Shanghai and Beijing. James AdelmanElliot PurseElizabeth Shupe and Zoe Sua-Kay (all members of the class of 2014) will share their experiences here throughout the summer.

1 comment:

  1. Beautiful. Your written word and incredible array of pictures have inspired me! Thank you for writing this blog. I'm about to start my journey at NYAA in the Fall 2013 so your blog has made me really excited!! I LOVE 'Blade Runner' by the way. That last quote is my favorite from that film.