Last weekend (April 1-2), Handshake 302 set up a stand at the T-Street craft fair. We brought ten years of memories, including original bags that had been repurposed from the 2017 UABB Longhua (Dalang) venue installation “Story of Rice,” teeshirts from “Urban Flesh and Bones,” our series of walking tours, and “Mahjong Parlor,” or “exhibition in the palm of your hand.”

The stalls are lined up in the center of the pedestrian walks in the northern and southern sections of OCT Loft, allowing visitors to browse stalls, stop for a snack or settle into an alfresco coffee shop, where one can rest and watch the different people. Following the side roads a bit further into OCT brings visitors to interesting galleries like Feidi and Dade, or to Ecological Park where many art installations from previous sculpture biennales continue to entice new audiences. 

OCT loft has a special place in our arts. The art institutions and artists who gathered in OCT  were not only Handshake 302 neighbors from 2013-2019, when were in Baishizhou, but also the first site of the UABB, which brought ideas like “City, Open Door!” “City of Expiration and Regeneration,” and “Architecture creates cities. Cities create architecture” to popular discussion. After all, Handshake 302 began its artistic journey as a satellite venue of the 2013 edition of UABB “Urban Border.”

Using a craft stall as a “pop-up” exhibition may seem counterintuitive. Many of us think of “art” and “commerce” as separate actives. However, markets remain an ongoing inspiration for artistic practice—walking around and seeing different products is not simply “window shopping,” but also “research.” It is only by seeing how other creators combine colors and reinterpret jewelry, for example, that it is possible to reimagine how one might design new clothes or decorate a teapot. 

Mary Ann, Kaiqin, Wu Dan and Liu He all worked at the stand, talking with anyone who came up and showed interest in our memories. Ten years ago, Handshake 302 began our art practice in Baishizhou because we believe that “art belongs to everyone who contributes to our city.” Today, we also believe that art allows each of us to contribute to the city. By appreciating art, by thinking about the city from different perspectives, and by exploring different kinds of creativity, Shenzhen people both enrich their personal lives and become better citizens. 

Throughout 2023, Handshake 302 will continue to “pop up” in Shenzhen and elsewhere, bringing our perspective and our memories into conversation about the future of the city.

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