Public Programs for Migrations

The activities organized for the Migrations exhibition aim to create knowledge about Shenzhen’s history and to catalyze reflection on how departure and arrival shape human lives. On the face of it, these are broad topics, more suitable for a classroom or seminar than a small gallery in a remote urban village. However, overcoming the distance between “downtown” and “the outer districts” is one of the central ideas of this edition of the Shenzhen-Hong Kong Bi-City Biennale of Urbanism\Architecture (UABB), just as bringing “art” and “ordinary lives” closer together has been an ongoing ideal of Handshake 302.

As visitors to Migrations participate in the P+V Salon, art workshops, playback theater, and the New Genealogy project, they will have an opportunity to reflect on local history and re-imagine contemporary possibility. What’s more, the diversity of programs is designed to accommodate visitors of different ages and interests.

The P+V Salon invites scholars to discuss the Longheu Girls’ School in light of local Hakka history. These conversations are inspired by the stories and objects of the Mutual Gaze: The Longheu Artifacts International Exhibition as well as by ongoing scholarly research into how Christianity was shaped by and in turn shaped Hakka culture. Author of The Longheu Girls’ School, Wang Yanxia will moderate these salons, bringing her passion for this history to a new audience.


We have organized the Stories of Rice art workshops to not only encourage visitors to express their ideas about memory, food, and women’s work, but also to bring the original artworks that comprise the Home is Far Away Exhibition into conversation with Shenzhen residents and Dalang locals. Moreover, this conversation is not simply between objects. German artist, Katerina Sommer will lead one of the workshops, giving participants a hands on experience of the relationship between memory and women’s work.


Shenzhen’s YaYa Theater troupe will be in residence for the P+V Playback Theater, offering visitors a chance to learn how to create improvisational skits. The themes of these skits will be elicited from visitors’ personal migration stories as well as from the historic migration stories of Hakka families and missionaries. For the past ten years, YaYa has been using playback theater to understand what it means to be a Shenzhener. Their visit to the historical Longheu Girls’ School will give them and us an opportunity to deepen our understanding of migration and local identity.


Finally, the New Genealogy Workshops will build bridges between hometowns and the future. Led by Migrations’ curator, Mary Ann O’Donnell the New Genealogy Workshops ask Shenzhen migrants to answer two important questions. First, we ask parents: what do you want your children to know about your hometown? Second, we ask everyone: what do you want your children and grandchildren to know about your life in Shenzhen today. The answers to these questions will take the form of picture books and time capsules.


The program can be downloaded here.

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