Posted by Joel Martinsen on Saturday, August 29, 2009 at 10:58 PM
The controversy over the supposed "dirty joke" behind the new CCTV headquarters building hit the mainstream press this week.
Both the China Daily and the Global Times sought responses from the architecture community as well as China's Internet users, and yWeekend splashed a suggestive illustration across the cover of its Thursday issue.
There's been enough widespread coverage that even if the CCTV complex wasn't actually intended to look like genitalia, Beijingers may never be able to look at the buildings the same way again.
CCTV itself responded: its website interviewed Rem Koolhaas on August 26. The questions and answers stressed the uniqueness and creativity of the CCTV building, but did not actually mention the pornographic interpretation that has the Chinese media all riled up.
Here's a transcript (the reporter's questions are translated from Chinese; Koolhaas answered in English):
Reporter: Mr. Koolhaas, there have been rumors recently surrounding the design of the new CCTV building. I wonder what reaction you had when you first heard or read about the rumors?
Reporter: We know that a few days ago you issued a statement of clarification about the matter on the OMA website. Could you explain it in more detail for us?
Reporter: The design of the new CCTV building attracted widespread attention from the start. We'd like to hear about how your design concept and how you arrive at it. Could you share that with the public?
Reporter: We'd also like to know what you were thinking when you took part in the CCTV design competition? How did you incorporate some of the elements of a state media entity into your design?
Koolhaas's answers aren't anything new: his description of the concept behind the design for the CCTV building is basically the same one that appears on the OMA website:
Meanwhile, Xiao Mo, the architect whose comments sparked this round of controversy, has issued a clarification about his use of "genital worship" (生殖崇拜) in connection with the CCTV building. In a recent blog post, he regrets the offhand manner in which he introduced the idea into his discussion of the CCTV building:
And in a twist anyone could have predicted, the search phrase "Koolhaas CCTV" (库哈斯 央视) is now a sensitive term: Baidu returns no results, claiming violation of national laws and regulations.
Update (2009.08.31): Jim Gourley, who frequently blogs about the CCTV building at Absurdity, Allegory and China, has posted about the latest controversy. He's also of the opinion that the entire project is an immense joke, just not the juvenile snickering sort of joke that Xiao Mo and China's netizens are enjoying at the moment.
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Jobs in China
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The Eurasian Face : Blacksmith Books, a publishing house in Hong Kong, is behind The Eurasian Face, a collection of photographs by Kirsteen Zimmern. Below is an excerpt from the series:
Big in China: An adapted excerpt from Big In China: My Unlikely Adventures Raising A Family, Playing The Blues and Becoming A Star in China, just published this month. Author Alan Paul tells the story of arriving in Beijing as a trailing spouse, starting a blues band, raising kids and trying to make sense of China.
Pallavi Aiyar's Chinese Whiskers: Pallavi Aiyar's first novel, Chinese Whiskers, a modern fable set in contemporary Beijing, will be published in January 2011. Aiyar currently lives in Brussels where she writes about Europe for the Business Standard. Below she gives permissions for an excerpt.
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