Samantha Culp

Paul Robeson, Anna May Wong & Mei Lanfang Vintage Photo

(full size image here)

An amazing photograph from 1935 of Paul Robeson, Anna May Wong and Mei Lanfang standing in front of Claridge’s hotel in London. One can only imagine how cool their tea-time that afternoon must have been.

Courtesy of the “Room 26: Cabinet of Curosities” blog, which features new acquisitions, unique documents, and visual and textual curiosities from the collections of the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Yale University.


Short Stays Premiere

At long last, Short Stays had its premiere at The Opposite House on May 18. See some snapshots here…


Photos from Short Stays: the Making Of

Click below to play a slideshow of the Short Stays film stills and making of…

Link to set on Flickr.

Short Stays – Premiere May 18

Short Stays, the film project I produced for The Opposite House hotel in Beijing, will have its long-awaited premiere on May 18. Read more on the Short Stays website.

3 Short Films by / 三个短片
Zhao Ye / Liu Jiayin / Peng Lei


The World of Already (Shanghai Expo Opens)

Mexico Pavilion

“It returns the child’s eye to the retinas of men. Emerging from subway, [taxi] or even hydrofoil, the visitor to the [Shanghai Expo 2010] feels that he is in a special world, full of runaway pylons, impossible cantilevers, and buildings that look like flowers or accidents of flowing lava.

Is it the future? Not exactly.”

This John McPhee surveying the 1964 New York World’s Fair in his essay “Fairs: The World of Already,” but he could just have equally been describing the Shanghai Expo. Some photos from the still-unfolding, barely-comprehensible spectacle.

Slideshow of May 1 (on Flickr):

Slideshow of May 2 (on Flickr):

罗伯特卡尔普 (1930-2010)



Great Strides in Sino-Islamic Cultural Exchange


Wekipedia bread

Wekipedia Bread

Who knew that Wikipedia made baguettes in China?

Lunar Neue Jahr in Berlin


The start of the Year of the Tiger was icy but beautiful in Berlin… Full set here.

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Happy 2010!


Free Lighters

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At Shanghai’s Hongqiao airport, there are now baskets of free lighters to greet arrivals passengers who undoubtedly had their lighters confiscated before their flight. I had a hard time choosing, but finally settled on a hot pink clear one inscribed with the legend, “punchtobacco”.

Shanghai Pups

Spotted near Huaihai Lu on an autumn afternoon.


These little guys appeared to be informal ambassadors for the upcoming 2010 Shanghai Expo… way cooler than the dreaded Haibao.

Shanghai Pups (上海小狗) from Samantha Culp on Vimeo.


(Daido Moriyama, “How to Create a Beautiful Picture 6: Tights in Shimotakaido“, 1987)

Before I headed to Tokyo, I did a Google search for “Shimotakaido,” the neighborhood where my friend Patrick Tsai lives and where he was graciously allowing me to crash. One of the first results was this awesome 1987 photo-series by renowned Japanese photographer Daido Moriyama – fitting, as Patrick is also a photographer and a big Moriyama fan.


Light and Wonder


A short review I did on “Light Streams,” the current show at Center for Cosmic Wonder in Tokyo, is up at Read online here or in the vault. See some pictures from the show below.


Escape from Beijing

[Tokyo, Japan]


Since Beijing was preoccupied with military parade mania over the October holiday, it seemed like a good time to escape to Tokyo.

Full set here.
Bonus: learn Chinese from an animated panda on Japanese television.

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Shanghai Style

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My rambling notes from the week of SHContemporary are up at Artforum China; read the full article online here or in the vault. They didn’t end up using all of my pictures, however, so here are a few extras below…


Iranian Funk


Currently up at NPR is a great mini-set of 70s Iranian funk, collected by Egon of Stones Throw Records. It’s part of their ongoing Funk Archaeology series, and features tracks by some folks I’ve never heard (like the sitar-and-Afrobeat-infused Mehr Pooya and beach-psych-y Kourosh Yagmhei) as well as my old favorite, Googoosh (or Googoush, or گوگوش, all of which apparently mean “Swanhawk,” which is extra cool).


Meaw Meaw

Kitsch Cat Collage

My article on Bangkok’s Kitsch Cat is in the newest issue of Theme Magazine.

Read article online at Theme or in the vault.


midnight at 10am


Where was I during the longest and most complete solar eclipse of my lifetime? On the Bund, in a rainstorm. If we didn’t see the sun, at least we saw the darkness.


Swiss Knife

(Basel, Switzerland)


Click here for full set.



Taken from the window of a passing taxi a few weeks ago. Near impossible to believe, but somehow I had never passed it since moving to Beijing last summer (there was the requisite tourist visit years ago, of course). I kept expecting it to happen on some gloriously mundane day, and by the time it did, I had almost forgotten. But suddenly one evening, I looked up and was struck by a sight so familiar, so unreal, that I knew what it was before I knew.

It still seems stuck inside my mother’s little pink TV on the kitchen counter that summer. Like all things from the past, tiny and infinite at once.

Xinjiang Time

So we went to Xinjiang.


Click here for full set.

The Races

(Hong Kong)

Wandered around ART HK 09 (lamely attempting to play paparazzi for Scene & Herd), saw friends, drank on rooftops, went to the track… the usual.


Full set here.

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Relational Picnic

Spring picnic in Chaoyang Park with friends (including visiting HK artist Lee Kit, who graciously supplied one of his beautiful cloths for us to feast upon).

Just in case you weren’t aware, it is not possible to enter Chaoyang Park at West Gate 1 and walk north to West Gate 3 within the park. Well, it is possible, but only if you are willing to scale chain-link fences and sneak through restricted horse stables and climb over the padlocked metal gates at either end of a decommissioned bridge…


Life is a Struggle


Words of wisdom from the Carrefour check-out girl. With my abysmal Chinese, I was unable to ascertain whether she had written the slogan on her register herself, or it was someone else’s graffiti… pretty great regardless.

Back to Bass-ics


BKK Notes 004: Found Photos (& Sticker)

Dont_Be_Selfish Elephant_Festival Mod_Chick_2 Mod_Chick_1 Student_Abroad Brise_Soleil Bangkok_Beauty

Some incredible ’60s photos I found in Chatuchak Market… plus sticker from About Cafe. Full set here.

Street Legal

Yesterday up at Gulou, I finally got around to buying the new albums by Hedgehog (just released) and Ourself Beside Me (came out in January)… Only to discover a few hours later via the salivating tweets of more media-savvy Beijingren that Google China had just launched its free mp3 service, which, of course, happens to feature both albums.

Oh well – still nice to support an actual music shop, and made an additional purchase of some Cui Zi’en (崔子恩) DVDs I haven’t seen around before. A few years ago at HKIFF, Thai director Pen-ek Ratanaruang described to me his first exposure to Cui’s films as something like this: “I put on the tape, and was watching it until I felt I had to turn it off, but then I couldn’t turn it off… it’s so bad that it’s fascinating, and then it becomes interesting.” Intense paraphrasing going on there, but it sticks in my mind as fairly apt. The weird, self-conscious crappiness in the aesthetic and tone of “Withered in the Blooming Season” is kind of amazing.

The Hedgehog and Ourself Beside Me albums are available for streaming and download below. (Legally! Though the concept of something that is both “digital” and “legal” in China is still confusing to me.) I’m still making my way through them…


Ourself Beside Me “Ourself Beside Me”
(Loving the Rundgren/Barrett-by-way-of-Lisa-Frank cover art; also I’m amazed that they actually did use ‘Ourself Beside Me’ as the official name on it – they had barely decided it while my THEME article on them was going to press)

Hedgehog “Blue Day Dreaming”
(I wish time machines existed just so that Hedgehog could travel back to 1993 to appear on 120 Minutes, and we could now watch it on grainy Youtube VHS capture…)

Words of Caution for All Us Dilettantes


“No Dabbling.”

[Sign on decorative waterfall/pond, PVG Airport, Shanghai]

Bronchial Pneumonia Ain’t All It’s Cracked Up To Be


“See all this cotton-woolly stuff? That’s the pneumonia,” said the doctor. When I asked her if I could take a picture of my x-ray, she seemed nonplussed and just said, “Sure… do you have a blog or something?”