old haunts

In the mid-1990s, when Nanshan District launched “Cultural Nanshan” most events were held in or around the Nanshan Cultural-Sports Center (南山文体中心), which included a sculpture museum and the Red Earth Cafe and Bar, where Zero Sun Moon, an early incarnation of Fat Bird first performed. The design and scale of the Cultural-Sports Center reflected early Shenzhen values; it was three stories high, had an outdoor stage for Everybody Happy (大家乐video) events, and small, cultural entrepreneurs rented rooms. I remember walking two-lane boulevards to use the computers at one of those shops, as well as playing go at the weiqi and western chess club.

Located diagonally across the street from the Cultural-Sports Center, the Nanshan Library was finished in time for the Handover and signaled the area’s future designs. Beijing sculptor, Bao Pao collected discarded metal and sutured it together to make the Library’s fence, which still stands. However, the Cultural Center crumbled where it stood until 2009, when Nanshan District approved an 800 million (8亿) budget to build a landmark building on the site. By this time, of course, the Coastal City mall was already open and the abutting Tianli and Poly Center Malls were nearing completion in anticipation of the Universiade. The point is that this area of upscale consumption is now called “the Nanshan Cultural Center” and the Nanshan Cultural Sports Center has been demoted to a bus station even though that’s where all the cultural infrastructure was / is being built.

Below, pictures from a walk around the Nanshan Cultural Sports Center block. Of note, Nanshan District’s neo-Confucian propaganda, the remnants of Old Nanshan, and the neoliberalization of the cityscape, including a high-concept Marriage Registration Bureau Hall and shopping plaza. Also, there will be a diamond market just around the corner.

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