Jing Daily’s Top Posts For The Week
This week, ArtTactic released its newest Chinese contemporary art market confidence survey, which — as expected, considering the success of this spring’s auctions in Hong Kong and mainland China — shows a 27% positive increase in confidence over December 2009, with a majority of respondents believing either that the Chinese contemporary art market has rebounded or will do so within one year.
Over the past 18 months, the emergence of the mainland Chinese auction house as a strong regional force and the growing clout of new Chinese collectors has injected a serious dose of optimism into the market, and led ArtTactic to conclude that the current trend sets out the possibility that Chinese contemporary art volume in 2010 might even come close to pre-crisis historical levels.
Aside from crowds, hours-long lines, and foreign brands hoping to make a splash with Chinese consumers, the Shanghai Expo has brought an impressive array of cuisines to a city that previously had few such options. Several of the pavilions are hosting restaurants run by internationally renowned chefs. Will these bastions of haute cuisine serve as celebrity-chef stepping-stones into China? Here are a few of the contenders.
6SENS offers Mediterranean fare in a luxurious 1,200-square-foot space in the roof garden of the French pavilion. Created by twin chefs Jacques and Laurent Pourcel, the menu offers their trademark “contrasting tastes,” with items like sea scallops carpaccio and rack of lamb with bouillon emulsion and squid-ink risotto, as well as an Asian-influenced Pavilion Dessert: a cream of green matcha tea with a crunchy center of Jivara chocolate served on a hazelnut biscuit.
The Mid-Autumn Festival (中秋節, also known as the Moon Festival) is just around the corner, falling on September 22 this year. Along with a litany of other traditions, which differ depending on location and family, that take place on this day, perhaps the best-known is the sharing of mooncakes — dense pastries generally filled with lotus seed paste and containing anything from red bean to preserved duck egg yolks and ham. Nothing if not an acquired taste, a box of mooncakes usually runs for the equivalent of US$5-10 to “the sky’s the limit,” as — like any product on the market nowadays — even the humble mooncake has gotten a high-end makeover in mainland China.
Though the concept of the “luxury mooncake” isn’t all that new, with mooncakes stuffed with rare and expensive delicacies having existed in Hong Kong and elsewhere in the Greater China region for years, only in the last 10 or 15 years have they really hit the scene in the mainland.
Although names like Anta, Li Ning and PEAK don’t yet ring the same bells stateside as Nike, Adidas or Puma, over the past several months we’ve seen concerted efforts by these three homegrown Chinese sportswear brands to change that. Led by Li Ning — which opened its first U.S. retail location in Portland, Oregon this February, and recently signed a multimillion-dollar sponsorship deal with NBA rookie Evan Williams — Chinese sportswear brands that have seen great success at home but are virtually unheard-of overseas are making gradual advances towards the cut-throat American market.
Last week, Anta signed Kevin Garnett as its second NBA spokesman (following Houston’s Luis Scola), and now PEAK — which, despite its low name recognition, has already signed sponsorship deals with more than 10 NBA players (including Jason Kidd) — is looking to break into the American market. Recently, the company opened its first U.S. office in Los Angeles, with hopes of launching its first retail locations in 2011.
Tomorrow, the 67th annual Venice International Film Festival will kick off in Italy, featuring films from some 34 countries, up from 27 last year. As the New York Times points out today, at this year’s festival “there will be 79 world premieres in the four official sections, chosen from 2,395 feature films from 102 countries — there were 74 in 2009 — with 34 countries making the final lists.” Although the U.S. accounts for the largest non-Italian contingent, with 19 American films taking part, this year seven Chinese films will be shown at the festival, with one — Tsui Hark’s “Dr. Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame” — in competition.
The other Chinese films that will be shown in Venice are Huang Wenhai’s Qiao (Crust) and Xifang qu ci bu yuan (Reconstructing Faith), Stanley Kwan’s Yongxin tiao (Showtime), Xun Sun’s 21 ke (21 Grams), John Woo and Su Chao-Pin’s Jianyu (Reign of Assassins) and Zhang Yuan’s Taikong xia (Space Guy).