设计之都: graffiti art, shenzhen


the new look of tianmian–city of design

it’s the third annual industrial arts fair in shenzhen. last year this time, fat bird did a series of improvised performances at the fair. this year, the fair came to tianmian! specifically, city of design, the ongoing project to upgrade old urban village shenzhen hosted the first three-city (guangzhou, hong kong, shenzhen) graffiti competition. a few pics, here.

now, i don’t know where or how these artists actually applied to compete; i haven’t seen any of the shenzhen artists’ work around the city. not that means anything in and of itself, much happens that i miss because i’m busy elsewhere. but. i’ve taken pictures of graffiti in the past. i’ve taken pictures of overpainting. but in over five years of walking and photographing the shenzhen, i haven’t seen any graffiti approaching the quality on display. interesting questions: where do these graffiti artists actually work? where are their other projects? will the city actually heed shenzhen t.v.’s call for more graffiti art throughout the city?

all this to call attention to the ways in which shenzhen continues its pursuit of culture in government approved forms. more specifically, its pursuit of culture as a viable economic investment. the industrial arts fair is the most obvious example. government regulation, promotion, and investment is also making dafencun into something of a brandname. this year, in tianmian graffiti art is being promoted as a happy alternative to industrial manufacturing as the livelihood of urban villages.

that said, fat bird’s most “successful” projects have been in collaboration with government entities. indeed, our next performance installation is also made possible by a government agency. we’re just paid less.

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