Erenlai - Displaying items by tag: flâneur
Thursday, 30 June 2011 16:37

A Flâneur's peek at Shanghai

The term flâneur comes from the french verb flâner, which ever since Baudelaire appropriated the word and gave it the extended meaning as a way of truly experiencing, appreciating the city as one walks. Indeed when we have a bit of time to explore the world we are all flâneurs, and not least of all the eRenlai team are certainly flâneurs without frontiers. But rather than Baudelairean strolls through Paris, the old eRenlai team and their sister organization AZ Cultural Enterprise spent much time over the last two years going back and forth to Shanghai. Their adventures, however, were more than just aimless strolls latching on to pretty thoughts; the team came back to Taipei having completed not one but three outstanding documentaries on Shanghai which are excusively offered to you in this Focus - A Flâneur's peek at Shanghai.

Liang Zhun first takes us on a stroll down Lane 1025, Nicolas Priniotakis looks for the rarest pearls of Chinese ethnic music and instruments in Seaside Seranade and Benoit manages to get a way from the hustle and bustle of central Shanghai and finds the ultimate spot for peaceful contemplation in Suzhou’s gardens.

Ida also feels the nostalgia of a 21st Century flâneuse, in a state of liminality between her years of studying and appreciating the language, arts and glory of France and the French, and a return to the lost Mainlander heritage in Shanghai, where paradoxically, the glory of the France is reduced to magnificent leftover architecture in the French concession. She was moved, but confused in the melting pot of people and architectures that is contemporary Shanghai. Similarly, Mei Fang-tsai had many identity questions to face during her time living in Shanghai as a so called "Tai-ba-zi".  Even Paul was left with identity questions during the 2010 World Expo-lent Australian adventure as he observed his country's pavillion as a semi outsider, looking at people, looking at Australia, the way Australia wanted them to look...

Photo by Ida Yang


Thursday, 30 June 2011 15:27

Nostalgia of a 21st Century Flâneuse

Wondering the streets of Shanghai is sentimental, whoever you are. If you are a tourist or passenger who has visited Shanghai several times, you might sigh that this attractive city is developing too fast, and every time you visit, you can’t recognize what it used to be. If you are a resident, you might be proud of this modern city, but also regard this city with other complex feelings concerning Shanghai’s tumultuous history. If you are a worker from other provinces of China, this huge city might bring you deep nostalgic feelings. The second and third conditions are my imagination, because I am only a tourist from Taipei who is neither resident nor worker. I am also a 21st century flâneuse tribute to Baudelaire. Loafing around in this city, surrounded by the parasol trees (梧桐樹wutong shu), I was under the impression 19th century French flâneur reincarnated in Shanghai. The French concession is mainly in Luwan and Xuhui Districts. I visited no.319 Yueyang Road (岳陽路), where the Former Consulate of France (法國領事館) (pic.1)(pic.2)is situated. On the same road, at no.145, is a French-style garden residence, which is the former residence of T. V. Soong (宋子文). Besides these European residences, there is also some modernist architecture. Most of these buildings were built by Hungarian architect L.E.Hudec.(pic.3) who lived in Shanghai for about 30 years.

This city is a melting pot for an enormous amount of different styles. It’s blissful, but also confusing. Strolling through different areas, it seems like travelling around in different countries. In The Bund, I can see a row of beautiful architecture from different cultures.  It’s an embodiment of different imperialist powers, which let Qing government cede some territory in order to pay off its indemnities. Yet, Shanghai’s ignominious history, just makes the city more glamorous.

ida_shanghai_flaneuse_2

 

ida_shanghai_flaneuse_4

(Photos: Ida Yang)

 


 

[1] T.V.Soong was at a former Chinese Premier in 1930 and was in a highly influential position throughout the Nationalist era. His three sisters were married to presidents Chiang Kai-shek, Sun Yat-sen and China’s former richest man H.H. Kung.

 


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