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PRINT December 2006

Philip Tinari

OVER THE COURSE OF A FEW DAYS LAST APRIL, a group of artists in Beijing shot Chinese Crackers, a ten-minute film based on Ed Ruscha’s Crackers (1969)—a book in which the artist’s photographs illustrate a short story by Mason Williams, “How to Derive the Maximum Enjoyment from Crackers.” (In this instruction manual–style text, the reader is told to seduce a woman and, after taking her to a “skid-row flophouse,” convince her to lie down on a bed laden with salad, pour dressing over her, and then leave in a chauffeured car for a “suite of rooms in the finest hotel in town” to enjoy a box of crackers alone.) Set far from Ruscha’s Los Angeles, the film’s geography is immediately recognizable to the Beijing art world: For the “finest hotel in town,” the Chinese team chose the Lido Holiday Inn, the logistical hub of the neighborhood where most of the city’s galleries and studios are located.

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