China Today Arts Week Premiered in Monaco
On February 14, the five-star red banners of giant scale were fluttering high above the port of Monaco, big red lanterns were hung in the trees along the main road and the posters of Chinese festivals in Monaco in decoration of Chinese traditional knockers, red lanterns and overview of Monaco’s landscape were almost everywhere. A Chinese horizon was then officially launched in the Principality of Monaco, the second smallest country in the world with a distance of thousands of miles from China. 2014 China Today Arts Week, jointly sponsored by CFLAC and Monaco administration, was staged on this coincident day—Lantern Festival of China in Chinese lunar calendar and St. Valentine’s Day in western tradition. Under the auspice of CFLAC, more than 60 Chinese artists of music, dance, theatre, photography, folklore and culinary arts traveled a long distance from Beijing to Monaco. With their artistry and abundant forms of expression, they showcased the charm of today’s China and distinct festive atmosphere of New Year celebration to the audiences in Monaco and presented a “surprise from China” in this special St. Valentine’s Day.
Port of Monaco
Local Audiences Visited Photo Exhibition
Mathieu, an employee of Stamp and Coin Museum of Monaco, had a doubt recently, “How come so many Chinese people in Monaco these days? Just now I saw a group of Chinese tourists.” When we told him that Chinese people prefer to have their vacation abroad during Chinese New Year and Lantern Festival, he suddenly got his answer “Year of Horse” and pointed at the posters of China Today Arts Week available in every lane and road of Monaco. This time, he got to the point. As a premier in Monaco, China Today Arts Week jointly sponsored by CFLAC and Monaco government was held from February 14 till 20. The rich contents and varied forms of arts such as variety performance, folk arts showcase, photographic exhibition and cuisine appreciation brought the taste of China to the people in Monaco and enabled them including Mathieu to discover the artistic charm of today’s China.
Opening: “Ground-breaking Significance in the Culture and Art Exchange History of China and Monaco”
At 5 pm local time on the afternoon of February 14, the launching ceremony of China Today Arts Week took place at Wharf Square of Monaco, which meant the simultaneous opening of varied showcase of photography, folk arts and culinary arts. Officials and distinguished guests from China and Monaco such as Madame Zhao Shi, vice president of CFLAC, Michelle Roger, state minister of Monaco, Catherine Fautrier, Monaco ambassador to China, Li Shaoping, cultural counselor of Chinese Embassy in France, Yu Jinsong, consul general of Chinese Consulate at Marseille, Paul Masseron, minister of Internal Affairs of Monaco, Jean Castellini, minister of Finance and Economy of Monaco, Georges Marson, mayor of Monaco, Wang Yao, president of China Photographers Association, Dong Zhanshun and Xue Ling, director general and deputy director general of International Liaison Department of CFLAC, Chen Jianwen and Deng Guanghui, director general and deputy director general of Theoretical Research Department of CFLAC and Liao Ken, director general of Literary and Art Volunteering Service of CFLAC attended the related event and inspected folk arts showcase and variety performances. Political celebrities from Monaco such as Michelle Roger gave a high appraisal over the folk arts and local audiences gained a profound experience of livelihood, memory and dream of Chinese people through the photo exhibition.
Chinese paper Cut artist sent the gift to Michelle Roger
Guests visit the photography exhibition
In the wake of launching ceremony, Monaco held a reception of Chinese cuisine in the café of Paris Hotel, a well-known venue in Monaco. Over 50 representatives from CFLAC delegation, Cultural Office of Chinese Embassy in France, Consulate General of China in Strasberg and ICBC Paris Branch as well as the responsible leader from Monaco party such as Monaco Ambassador to China and Mayor of Monaco attended the reception. In the opening speech, Madame Zhao Shi expressed that on this fortunate coincidence of Chinese Lantern Festival and St. Valentine’s Day in western tradition, Chinese artists were privileged to come to such a beautiful and prosperous country as Monaco to sponsor China Today Arts Week with friends in Monaco. This event was a grand outcome of cultural and art exchange between China and Monaco with ground-breaking significance. With rich contents, novel forms and exquisite skills, the Arts Week created a traditional festive atmosphere, and all the Chinese artists embodies their deep affections for Monaco people in showcasing contemporary photographic exhibition, folk handicraft, culinary culture and colorful variety performances. This event was expected to promote mutual understanding and friendship between the people of two countries and provide an opportunity to share the latest achievement in cultural and art prosperity. As a hearty connection between people from different cultural backgrounds, culture and arts are blessed with the power of penetration and influence beyond the boundary of space and nationality. “We sincerely look forward to closer cooperation with the government, cultural organizations and friends of all walks of life in Monaco. Taking this Arts Week as opportunity and platform, we would like to expand our cooperation mechanism in order to achieve new horizon of cultural exchange and development of people’s friendship between China and Monaco” Zhao Shi concluded.
Zhao Shi and Michelle Roger Wrote Comments for Photo Exhibition
Guests celebrate the success of the show
Variety Performance: “ I’m now Eager to See China.”
Next to Mathieu’s Stamp and Coin Museum stood Espace Leo Ferre, a key venue of meeting, politics and culture in Monaco where an oriental stage art feast will be presented on Feburary 15 and 16 as an important part of China Today Arts Week. More than 30 artists and excellent performers from celebrated art troupes of Peking Opera Company of Beijing, Central Minzu University and Art College of Shandong University dedicated a series of selected programs such as Dance of Golden Snake, Dance Melody of Yi People, Musical Variation of Qin Melody Theme, Lofty Mountain and Stream of Water, Jasmine, A Lovely Rose, Oh, 28 Years, Golden Palms, Cradle on the Bull’s Back, Ancient Passage of Tea and Horse, Fairy Scatters Pedals and pergence. As a whole, the performance enjoyed an elegant style and passionate atmosphere. It not only showcased the distinct national character, charm of Chinese arts and oriental aesthetics, but also carried out exchange with western music from Chinese perspective and led to the harmony of cultural exchange between east and west.
During the conventionally-ending piece Radetzky March and Chinese famous piece of folk music Blooming Flowers and Full Moon, the whole performance reached its climax, conveying enthusiastic festive celebration and people’s expectation for a better life in fine moment and beautiful scenery. “ Our programs are so various that artists and programs of Han, Miao, Uygur, Naxi and Tibetan ethnic groups gather to display the multi-national art character. In the meantime, we choose some programs easy for foreigners’ understanding such as two Peking opera programs, an aria Fairy Scatters Pedals and an episode of martial arts pergence. We hope to showcase Chinese stage arts to overseas audiences and bring them to feel the charm of Chinese culture.” Tu Yin, director in charge of variety performance from CCTV, said.
The Song A Lovely Rose by Ayouduo
As taking three connecting flights from China to Monaco and arriving at Monaco on the very day of the opening ceremony, Ayouduo, a singer of Miao ethnic group, suffered a sore throat due to jet lag. Despite this, she managed rehearsal and the following three performances in her costume of Miao nationality. As she said, it is her mission to showcase her national art to Monaco people and disseminate the charm of Chinese music and culture to the world. Yu Tong, a young magician, dedicated three magic programs such as Attractive Challenge from China and Flowing Miracle. “With program focus on cultural integration between China and West, I expect to interact with local audience in Monaco and bring good luck to those witnesses.” he explained. When he presented Chinese Knots in hi program and threw them to audience, all the children rushed to the front to pick as many as possible.
Besides young artists’ participation, the experienced masters became the key figures of this performance. In rehearsal, the director found several minutes were needed to prepare for instruments for the ending programs Radetzky March and Blooming Flowers and Full Moon. For this sake, a little solo was then assigned to Qu Xiang, a flute instrumentalist from Shandong University. For this additional program, he had a fast supper and then rehearsed for almost two hours against the mirror. In the first performance, a tiny mistake in the accompaniment caused a short suspending, but the singer Aiskaer fascinated the audiences with his rock guitar. In the second performance, he had a perfect cooperation with the dancer Dilinaer. When singing the song Girls from Daban City, he invited a little Monaco girl onto the stage and danced together, which became a highlight in the lens of all the audiences and even theatre security personnel.
An old couple was fond of Feng Mantian’s song Oh, 28 Years with the accompaniment of Chinese musical instrument Zhong Ruan, “The sound of this instrument is so melodious!” A mother of Korean origin with twin girls of mixed blood, who had planned for shopping in the neighborhood, came to enjoy the performance at the sight of the advertisement. Chi Dan (French name Sophie), MC from French Channel of CCTV, was invariably excited even after the performance. Many audiences would come to take pictures with her or ask for her signature as they recognized her immediately. “Excellent programs! Peking opera is my favorite. Chinese artists’ exquisite performance deserves our respect. As far as I can see, this event extends invitation for us to visit China and experience the profound Chinese culture.” Georges Marsan said.
Upon sending, this “invitation” received an immediate response. Julien, an ordinary viewer said, “I have some knowledge about Chinese culture, but your performance has made me realize how abundant it is. I’m now eager to see China”.
The Peking Opera Fairy Scatters Pedals by Jia Pengfei
The Pipa Solo Dance Melody of Yi People by Zhang Tianyao
Folk Arts: Universal Comment of “C'est très belle!”
Harbor Square of Monaco, the starting point of reputable F1 track, is the very venue presenting 8 cabins of Chinese art where China Folk Literature and Art Association organized Chinese folk artists to showcase abundant Chinese folk handicraft, namely Colored Lanterns, Kites, Dough Modeling, Inner Painting, Paper Cut, Gourd Pyrograph, Glassware and Clay Sculpture. All these folk arts related to Chinese traditional festive custom became important means for the public of Monaco to feel Chinese festival in a short distance.
On the afternoons of Saturday and Sunday, Wang Yanmin, a Chinese artist of colored lanterns commuted among the 8 cabins because his business was so prosperous. With so many foreign customers, he had to exchange money with his peers from time to time. Outside the cabins were colored ribbons, character of “Fu” (Happiness in Chinese) and lanterns, which showed a distinct expression of China while inside the cabins were beautiful selected items of folk handicraft extremely popular among Monaco people.
The Chinese folk artists were mostly successors of Chinese traditions and among their artworks the source and development of Chinese traditional folk arts could be traced and their elaboration and innovation in arts in the background of today’s China. “All my leaflets have already run out!” acclaimed Lang Zhichun, artist of dough modeling. Despite limited communication in foreign language, he preferred his capability of making dough dolls for foreign friends. “Those foreign friends would be happy if I helped them to make a baby’s hand or a colorful ball with dough and it would help them to understand more about this folk art. At 2 or 3 pm, the square was always the most crowded. With so many people around me, I had to give up time for a break” Lang Zhichun said.
“C'est très belle!”(It’s so beautiful!) might be the most familiar comment heard by Chinese artists in Monaco, especially before the cabin of Gourd Pyrograph. “Soon after the exhibition, a granny came to my house. As she introduced, she was a painter of oil painting with delicate and refined style. In one of her paintings, little animals would be found in a big tree as a designed surprise. As an artist in preference of exquisite technique, I had great sympathy with her. The next day we met each other again in the variety performance and she request my company next to her. This afternoon, she brought her husband together who recognized the author of the painting I copied in my mobile “Modigliani”. I was so moved by such an echo in arts between us.” Wang Xiaoqi, artist of Gourd Pyrograph, told us.
The Performance Ended in Blooming Flowers and Full Moon and Radetzky March by National Orchestra of Shandong University
Delicate Cuisines Jointly Dedicated by Chefs from China and Monaco
Photographic Exhibition: A Picture of Thousand Words
Gathering over 140 photos, “Dream and Memory—35 Years of Change in Chinese People’s Livelihood 1978-2013” photo exhibition was held in a hall of Antoine Port. Despite unremarkable location, this venue provided an opportunity for Monaco people to savor today’s China. Those photos taken by professionals and amateurs of China from 1978 till 2013, instead of showing off any great incidents or landmark instants in the 35 years in China, simply gave a reflection of changes in daily costumes, household, cuisine, communication, entertainment and environment, people’s expression and non-verbal language and family reunion photos in order to demonstrate social progress and people’s improved life in China as well as outline a unified Chinese dream of Chinese nation’s revival.
Without emergency or grand theme, every photo is describing bits and odds of Chinese people’s life. If you put some together for comparison, you will see, for example, how Chinese people had their hair cut 35 years ago and now. Through this exhibition, foreigners will witness the process of making dreams come true and unforgettable memory in the river of time.” Wang Yao, president of China Photographers Association, held that a photo might be better than thousands of words. Even without explanation, viewers will immediately understand its implication with a smile because they might have similar experience. Then a spontaneous feeling will be aroused no matter where they come from. Therefore, it is a much easier way to tell Chinese stories to foreigners and also easier for them to understand. “Très belle exposition！(It’s a beautiful exhibition!)” said Cathy, an ordinary viewer who found this exhibition interesting in demonstrating good changes in China.
“Belle” is the comment from many viewers in Monaco and they learnt more about this faraway oriental country and its change and development of 35 years. “It’s such a wonderful photo exhibition that we can find change and development of Chinese people’s daily life in details. Those touching scenes reminded me of my first visit to Shenzhen in 1981. After that, I have been to China on many occasions and I can vividly feel the great change in people’s life and exceptional economic development in China.” Michelle Roger said.
Sun Erlin, Chinese Paper Cut Artist, Showcase Her Artistry
Wang Xiaolin,Chinese Gourd carving Cut Artist, Showcase Her Artistry
Delicacy Feast: A Bite of Today’s China
For the first time, China Today Arts Week involved delicacy, everyone’s favorite, into its contents as a part with most expectation from participants and the public in Monaco. Talking about Chinese food, Catherine Fautrier immediately got excited, “All the countries and regions that promoted their culture and tourism would resort to delicacy as a showcase unit. Besides, our restaurant is rich in cooperation experiences with many foreign chefs. We are enthusiastic about introducing foreign delicacy though up till now there is no Chinese restaurant in Monaco. Chinese delicious food as well as culinary artists is always welcome to Monaco”.
In the café of Paris Hotel in Monaco designated for Chinese Cuisine Showcase Week, five chefs from Shanghai Traditional Restaurant, Defachang Dumpling Restaurant and Xi’an Restaurant, organized by CFLAC and China Cuisine Association (CCA), constituted a delegation of delicacy to present Chinese culinary art and introduce a bite of today’s China to the public in Monaco.
“This time, we provided selected Shanghai dishes and snacks made of flour in Xi’an. The counterpart in Monaco also learned a lot in exchange and we specially left our menu for their reference. We also would like to take this opportunity to learn more about catering industry in Europe and lay a foundation for Chinese catering enterprises to go abroad.” Jia Yongzhe, deputy director general of International Department of CCA, said.
China Today Arts Week provides opportunities to understand China and Chinese culture in a profound manner as well as to know the taste and look of Chinese delicacy. On February 19, Joel Bellassen, chief supervisor of Chinese Study of French Ministry of Education, introduced the relationship of Chinese food and culture to the public of Monaco under the theme of “Chinese Cuisine, Arts and System”. During the Arts Week, National Television of Monaco and related agencies released a series of documentaries of Chinese culture such as A Bite of China.29
Decade of China Today Arts Week: Window to Showcase China
As it is the first time to introduce Chinese delicacy, those host countries in the past decade, Canada, Greece, Australia, Austria, Japan, Egypt, Chile, Sweden, USA, Cambodia and Thailand, had pitifully missed this culinary art that arouses senses of smell, taste and vision. Despite this, the people of the above countries were able to feel the artistic charm of today’s China thanks to this comprehensive, non-profitable contemporary Chinese culture and art exchange sponsored abroad by CFLAC.
“Such comprehensive event as China Today Arts Week is far better than that in a single field by introducing China from various perspectives. With a long history of exchange and communications between the two countries and in the light of abundant cultural events such as Monte-Carlo International Circus Festival and F1 happening in Monaco, China and Monaco will have many to exchange in culture and the potential for development is promising.” Li Shaoping, cultural counselor of Chinese Embassy in France held that China and Monaco will have a bright vision in future exchange and development through the Arts Week.
Having seen the prospect of culture and art exchange between the two countries, Catherine Fautrier expressed her eagerness to “curate the next Chinese arts week”. “Blessed with colorful and abundant cultural resources, China has not yet fully demonstrated them to foreigners. Thanks to the location between France and Italy, Monaco, receiving countless tourists all over the world, will be a perfect window to introduce China. You will obtain a better effect if you choose here.” Catherine said in pride. Probably, appreciating more of the current outlook of Chinese arts is the common vision held by mass people in Monaco, including Mathieu.