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: