an interim project at handshake 302: 隐于城

Liu He is one of the more active curators at Handshake 302. While we are waiting for the students to prepare their “Shake Hands with the Future”exhibition, he is using the space as a refuge for people who want 8 hours alone, without their phone. The project, “Hidden in the City” is simple. At 9:30, Liu He meets the participant at Handshake 302, makes sure they have water and understand how the toilet works (and often doesn’t) and then takes their phone. At 10:00 a.m., the participant is “on the clock”, on retreat from the city for the next 8 hours, coming off at 6:00, when the cell phone will be returned, a dinner served along with a 302 salon/ discussion about what it all means. Below a translation of Liu He’s curatorial statement for “Hidden in the City”; the Chinese version follows.

In “Scientific Results of a Journey in Central Asia”, the Swedish explorer Sven Hedin described the bitter practice of Tibetan monks:  ‘A lama is closed away in a jet black cave for three entire years, during this entire time he has no contact with the outside world’.

— selected from “Sky Burial: The Fate of Tibet”

The development of society has made it so we’re completely dependent on our cell phones, the net, writing, language and walking. The development of science and technology has made it so its easy to satisfy our spirit of adventure through entertainment. The development of the economy has meant that we’re used to certain forms of entertainment. It’s tautological.

Or perhaps, we need an opportunity to get rid of everything social in order to imagine if what we’re doing is really our intention. Find an excuse, get rid of your cell phone, your clock, your friends, your family, your lunch, and let yourself become a primitive in clothes, find a place without views, space out.

[PS: When looking for an English translation of “Sky Burial” don’t be confused. The book quoted here is the political critique by Wang Lixiong (王力雄) and not the love story by Xinran, which was written at least 5 years after Wang’s book reshaped the Chinese debate about Sino-Tibetan relations. And yes, it says a great deal about Sino-American relations that in English, “Sky Burial: The Fate of Tibet” brings up translations of the Xinran love story, while in Chinese 天葬:西藏的命运 brings up pdfs and online files of  Wang Lixiong’s book, even though it has been banned.]

The curatorial statement in Chinese:

二十世纪初瑞典探索家斯文*赫定在他的《亚洲腹地旅行记》一书,记下了一个西藏僧人的苦修:“一个喇嘛整三年就幽闭在这个漆黑的洞穴里,他在这整个时间从未同外界接触过”--选自《天葬:西藏的命运

社会的发展使得现代社会人离不开手机、网络、文字、语言、行走,科技的发展又使我们的探险精神轻易地通过娱乐渠道得到满足,经济的发展却让我们开始习惯于某种模式下的娱乐。一切看起来回到了原点。

或许,我们需要一次抛开一切的机会,好让我们想象现在做的事情是否对自己有意义。找个借口,抛弃手机、抛弃时钟、抛弃朋友、抛弃家人、抛弃中午饭,将自己变成一个会穿衣服的原始人,去在没有风景的地方,发呆。

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