BOOM! Shenzhen

Gu Yun (she of the lovely biennale impressions) has taken photos of Boom! Shenzhen. Below are images from the show.

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Boom! Shenzhen

In 1979, Shenzhen was a rural area, organized into collective fishing villages, lychee orchards, and oyster farms. From 1979 through 2010, the Municipality’s estimated population grew from 300,000 to over 13 million people, its GDP exploded from $US 308 million to over $US 149 billion, and agricultural land vanished, being replaced by international ports, industrial parks, residential areas, shopping malls, and green space. Indeed, Shenzhen’s boom redefined the scale and intensity of rural urbanization within China and set new standards for developing nations looking to modernize.

Boom! Shenzhen has five elements, which implode the idea of a timeline to contextualize the lived, environmental, and philosophical meanings of the SEZ’s short, yet volatile history.

Boom! centerpiece mushroom cloud:  CAO Taiming (曹泰铭) and CHEN Yue (陈越) playfully literalize the idea of a boom, with thousands of tiny figures scaling a mushroom cloud that takes its silhouette from a graph of the Municipality’s annual GDP.

Family Values bas-relief rendering of Shenzhen’s housing market: Zhang Yiwei (张轶伟) humanizes one of the more controversial of Shenzhen’s booms – the price of housing, giving viewers insight into how millions of immigrants have inhabited the SEZ through a “house of cards” that plays with the English idea of instability and the Chinese idea of gambling.

Futures bas-relief of Shenzhen stock market index: Hong Wudi (洪吴迪) maps the abstract structure of market trading and investment in order to track how capital localization has transformed the landscape from a traditional Cantonese rural area into a major cityscape.

Meltdowns sculpture based on the SEZ’s expanding urban borders: Wan Yan (万妍) lyrically points to the uncontrolled and unexpected geological affects of urbanization by melting wax to fix in place maps of Shenzhen’s green space c. 1978 and 2010, respectively.

Shenzhen Speed flash video: Zhang Xueshi (张雪石) and Wang Lechi (汪乐弛) deconstruct our fetishization of fast track development, by interpreting key dates in the SEZ’s history as a hungry snake that “eats” history and in process ends up eating its own tale — game over!

3 thoughts on “BOOM! Shenzhen

  1. HI Mary Ann,
    This is such an exciting exhibition!
    I am from Toronto, Canada and am coming to Shenzhen beginning of Feb to visit the architecture biennale before it closes. I am working with an art exhibition in a suburb of Toronto that explores similar themes of the biennale, such as urbanism and sustainability, so I can’t wait to come and check out how these themes are viewed from a Chinese perspective.
    I am also really excited to see that you partook in this. I lived in Shanghai in 2007-2008 working with the Sociology department at Fudan University and followed your old blog while living there! I was very excited to see that you were apart of this and am excited to catch up on this new blog (well, newER blog).
    I was wondering if you would be able to meet up while I am in Shenzhen? I can provide you with my email if you are interested. I’d love to learn more about your experiences in Shenzhen in person. Thanks so much for all the amazing blogging! Its been such a pleasure to read.

  2. Pingback: BOOM Goes Shenzhen: The Architecture of Growth - Beyond Buildings

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