The ThermoMatter (温度) opening was well attended, despite the distances–geographic, class, and interest–that separate the Shenzhen Art Museum from the rest of Shenzhen. There was a general conversation with participating artists after the opening ceremony and there seemed to be a consensus that this show was “local”; all artists had some connection to the city. There were 2nd generation participants, long-term immigrants, and projects that were explicitly about the city itself. In the Chinese 温度 can refer to “temperature” as well as to actual and emotional warmth. All agreed that these meanings were fully on display.
General impressions from the opening:
Snippet from “of a piece”, hands:
View at Medium.com
Yes, smart city justifies ongoing exploitation. It does not, however, exhaust all possible meanings of what it means to be from Shenzhen.
Also, the question of gender. Most line workers (as in our free form quilting project) are women, not men (as the protagonist in the story). Instead, the more likely scenario would be a woman worker and a male supervisor.
In addition, one of the earliest and most important industry for jumpstarting Shenzhen’s rise was textile and garment manufacturing. There is a persistence to the story of electronics because it is the masculine version of exploitation–electronics factories, IT, webbies and what not. “Of a Piece” tells a more general and consistently overlooked story in urban construction, women’s work with women as protagonist and not a blushing counterpoint.
Tellingly, for example, “maker spaces” are resolutely masculine spaces, where usually middle class men play with electronics, adding “invention” to the value of assembly manufacturing. In contrast, quilting and knitting circles are feminine maker spaces that do not get named as such; the added value of “invention” to textile and garment manufacturing is dismissed through the rhetoric of “hobbies” or “homemaking”.