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Shadow of candles flickering red

Music helped Chen Wei to survive the cultural revolution. But it also brought him an unexpected lesson in desire

By Jonathan Tel   November 2008

Blame it on the Olympics. The authorities are trying to clean up the city, give it a new face. Let’s fool tourists and athletes into thinking it’s always been like this. Street performers of all kinds, they’re swept out of sight. Not that they vanish, they relocate to the outskirts, beyond the Fifth Ring Road. Now, as I set out to my work, making for the No 13 subway line, I’m importuned by calligraphers and contortionists, fortune tellers and acrobats, and a living statue in the guise of a terracotta warrior poses on the traffic island. You can’t just walk…

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