Symphony of Millions

From The New Yorker:

In March, Chen Qigang, a Chinese composer who is supervising the music program for the opening ceremony of the 2008 Summer Olympics, received a National Spirit Achievers Award at a press event in Beijing. He was one of ten artists and businesspeople to receive the prize, which came courtesy of the Chinese magazine Life and of Mercedes-AMG, the high-performance-vehicle division of Mercedes-Benz. The award ceremony, typical of modern China in its mixture of nationalist bombast, materialist excess, and cultural bizarrerie, took place in the 798 art zone—a cavernous factory complex that has been converted into exhibition space. Four AMG vehicles were on display, surrounded by models clad in silver-lamé outfits, in presumably inadvertent homage to “Goldfinger.” Projected on the walls and the ceiling of the factory were the words “Will,” “Power,” and “Dream,” with Chinese characters to match. “We believe that Mercedes-AMG will infuse powerful new vigor into China’s national car culture,” Klaus Maier, the head of Mercedes-Benz China, said. Chen stood to one side, a quizzical expression on his face. Before the ceremony began, he had said to me, “I have no idea what is happening.”

June 30, 2008 3:42 AM
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Categories: Culture & the Arts