This week while helping to install the next edition of “My White Wall Compulsions (墙迫症)”, Laura Belevica’s beautiful “Threshold (生死之门)”, I was struck by the beauty of collaboration within small, shared spaces. Indeed, our exploration of what can be done with the walls of an efficiency apartment has revealed unexpected vastness and implicit conversation. The first two compulsions–Liu He and Wu Dan’s “Floorplan (三房两厅302)” and Zheng Xili’s “OCD (强迫症)”–for example, contextualized the work-in-progres as a metaphor of ongoing habitation. Impressions of installation process, below. For those in the neighborhood, the third edition of “My White Wall Compulsions” will be held tonight at 7 p.m. You already know where we’ll be.
The problem with an issue like APEC blue is that it reads as if an authoritarian government can clean up the skies to impress visiting dignities by inconveniencing working class Beijingers and not be bothered to actually work for sustainable options. As such, this whole cleanup/mess easily slips into cultural mudslinging as if we were not talking a global economic system in which environmental quality is one of the perks of status. In such a system it makes sense that what is a “right” in one part of the system, becomes a luxury and political tool in another. Nevertheless, today I’m feeling hopeful because when we do turn off our factories and stop driving, the world heals. We just need sustainable reasons to do so.
Anyway, tis a day of thinking about APEC blue and how difficult it is to meet each other when defining a global, progressive agenda. Thank you Juliet Fall for explaining the politicization and gendering of space. Videos, below:
Suddenly occurred to me that the point of creating APEC blue (APEC蓝) in Beijing is not to give foreigners clear blue skies, but to demonstrate the Party’s superpowers — controlling the weather and people with a single policy decision. I can hear Xi Jinping and evil crew cackling (a la Jiang Zemin), “too young, too simple ha ha ha.” I see them in in black suped-up super up suits, rubbing their hands gleefully as they zoom about the underground tunnels that connect Zhongnanhai to the airport, the Great Hall of the People, and their secret policy laboratories. They need a Marvel tv comic
book tv series. In the meantime, however, they already have their own APEC Blue entry on Baidu. I know. Feeling me some paranoia.
Seriously? The banner reads “Reduce use of the roads so that foreign friends can enjoy wide streets”. The reason to keep small vendors and hawkers out of the way? Beginning yesterday through Nov 11, the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation is holding meetings in Beijing to promote the regional economy. Inquiring minds want to know; just whose economic prosperity are the regional leaders hoping to promote, when the Beijing City City Management (the dreaded 城管) is actively disrupting street markets for at least a week?
The photograph and outrage have been burning up my wechat groups. APEC calendar, here.
In 2009, Sam Green and Carrie Lozano made the short documentary Utopia, Part 3: The World’s Largest Shopping Mall about the South China Mall in Wanjiang, Dongguan. On November 1 and 2, 2013, I visited said mall. This post serves as a partial update. It also a brief response to the ideas of “too big to fail” and “acceptable capitalism” that haunt so many apologies for contemporary neoliberalism. Continue reading
Visited the New South China Mall in Dongguan, which is undergoing a family makeover (more next post). Today, impressions of my neon romance with the semi-abandoned re-occupied playground. Continue reading
While in Tianjin a friend said to me that she wanted to forward one of my posts about the Hong Kong protests to her WeChat circles, but was afraid of being “harmonized” (被和谐掉) — a euphemism meaning “to be arrested for political activism”, or as Orwell might have said, the crime of speaking one’s position. The expression ironically activates Xi Jinping’s relentless calls for social harmony through a return to Chinese values, that might be otherwise expressed as “shut up and do what you’re told” much as Lee Kwan Yew deployed Neo-Confucianism in his pursuit of a well
ordered managed Singapore. Continue reading