April 29. Artists in China an endangered species.

Today is our train to Xi’an. It leaves in the afternoon and we have “stand up” tickets that in the worst case will force us to sleep standing in the proximity of the train toilets while they are being frequented by other, more lucky, travelers seeking to relieve themselves from their instant cupnoodles and other bowel-unfriendly trainfood. The best case would have us sleeping hand in hand, sharing a comfortable left over seat.

In the morning we visit another art district near 798 that is being torn down as we speak. Unfortunately the resident artists are not available for an interview, let alone a little donation for their effort to get out of this mess, and Ba Mo has to return home because she is off limits with her car. You see, Beijing has a regulation that says that cars with a certain pattern on their licence plate can only enter the city proper on certain days, and today its not her day. We get a glance of the crumbled old factory that serves as the artist residence and our host translates the many slogans that we read on the wall. They speak for themselves. “Safe our livelihood.” “For the survival of the Arts in China.” And so it goes on.

We slide back into restaurant mode and edit our websites, correspondance, as we fill our stomachs with nice food. A treat we need, since indeed, we don’t have a seat in the heat of the train to Xi’an. We can sit on the dirty staircase however, and actually it is quite comfortable compared to that one Mozambique busride back in the days.

Back in the days? A couple of months ago! Traveling makes clocks tick in a funny way.


Published by

Kamiel Choi

Dutch philosopher and poet, sometimes sharing thoughts on the internet.

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