After a long day of traveling I am now back in Bergen, Norway. Even though my time in Beijing is up for now, I want to share a couple of more posts with you. Amongst the things that I didn’t have time to write about while in Beijing, is the Meridian. I’ve mentioned Meridian many times before, since they were hosting the book fair. But I never actually explained what kind of place it is.
The Meridian is founded and run by Mao Yimin (everyone calls her Momo) and Dorian Cavé. I’ve not yet met Cavé, but Momo was a key person for us during our stay, and for the execution of China meets Norway in a Bookshelf as well. She strikes me as an exceptionally hard working lady - as well as a wonderful host. My first day in Beijing she gave me a tour of the Meridian and explained to me how the place is run.
Meridian is located in an old printing factory, in an area that is now called the 77 Culture & Creative Park (for short, 77 C&C Park). The park was initiated by the Dongcheng-government 5 years ago. They decided to repurpose the group of buildings previously owned by the printing factory for cultural activity: to make it into a place for creative people, where different cultures can meet. In addition to the Meridian you can for example find a dance center and a theater there these days.
Even though the park is government-funded, Meridian is not. So to be able to run it, Momo and Cavé has to be creative. One thing they do is renting a room to a bicycle company, who has their store and showroom at Meridian. However, the room is cleared for all Meridian events, so that Momo and Cavé have the space they need for occasions such as our book fair. A café is also run at the main floor of Meridian, also providing some income, and at the top floor they have an office as well as their gallery space. In addition to rent, Meridian get some income from publishing books. They books they publish are picture books, for both children and adults. Xiong Liang is among the artists they are working with, and the previously mentioned Tales of Darkness is published by them.
In addition to hosting events and publishing books, Meridian is an exhibition space. They host about 6 exhibitions a year, working with a range of artists and galleries.
For Meridian, China meets Norway in a Bookshelf is actually a continuation of a book event that the they arranged in 2015 and 2016, called Meridian Avant-Garde Picture Book Fair. My impression is that the Avant-Garde Picture Book Fair functioned as an interactive exhibition, where people could browse though a wide selection of picture books on site.
To a certain extent, this could also be said about China meets Norway in a Bookshelf. Most of the Chinese books shown at our fair were not for sale. This has to do with governmental permits and regulations (which both artists making books and institutions selling books have to deal with). The Norwegian publications were however for sale, as well as a small selection of Chinese fanzines and books published by Meridian themselves.
China meets Norway in a Bookshelf filled all the rooms at Meridian’s disposal, plus a space that the original printing factory still have in use (we got to borrow it).