“Cut and Pastiche” has played with the logic of montage in order to tease out the experiences and logics that comprised the Special Zone. Montage helps us understand the process because “Shenzhen” comprises diverse elements–factories and work units, migrants and locals, tradition and IT, brackish water and containers–which were already in the world, but needed to be reorganized in order for China to achieve its goal to modernize. Quickly.
This final image from the SZ8x801 series “cut and pastiche” was made from photos taken in the Nantou church. If you’ve been following this blog for any amount of time, you know that I write about Nantou a lot. I’m not sure how to explain my compulsion to return to this origin other than the fact to keep reiterating there was a city, there were connections to Chinese dynasties, and traces of that history have shaped and re-shaped the land. Indeed, one of my favorite walking tours used to be to take people along the ridge of the pounded earth city wall that still stands in, but has now been cordoned off from Zhongshan Park. (I know, one would have thought it would have been a highlight of the 2017 edition of the Biennale, but alas, not.)
I made the image by cutting and pasting pictures I took when visiting the Italian orphanage that was built as part of a Catholic church. The church building no longer stands, but the orphanage has been repurposed as a church. It too–like the Ming Dynasty era city wall–used to be more accessible. Indeed, as I think about the ways in which that city was another city, I’m wondering about how the logic of doors and walls have replaced the logic of cut&pastiche. Or rather, at a certain point in the process, we try to fix our images with glue and hold them in place. And maybe that’s how I should be understanding how Nantou today is different from Nantou then and before? The ethos of the age is no longer trying to change the city, but rather to hold it in place? Maybe we are no longer living in the same city, but what has changed is that we want to keep living there? Anyway. Images are of a reconstructed walk north from Nantou toward Nanshan Village via Old Street (and side alleys), circa 2002-2003. The images of construction are of the Qianhai reclaimed land area, which was located northwest of the older settlements. These photos were taken at the cusp of restructuring, circa 2005-2006, well enough after the heady building rush of the 1990s had given us “new villages” and what we now call 城中村: