urban flesh and bones: huaqiangbei

On Saturday April 27, Handshake 302 led fifteen curious guests on a full-day discovery of Huaqiangbei from perspective of the historic Shangbu Industrial Park. The organization of the tour emphasized the intimate stories behind the emergence of Huaqiangbei as a global landmark. After all, Huaqiangbei did not emerge as fully formed nexus in a global network of technological innovation, but rather formed in the ongoing evolution of Shenzhen’s cultural geography. Continue reading

the compassionate lens: fish at handshake 302

Since the invention of cell phone cameras, most of us take more pictures in a day than we used to in a week or sometimes even a month. We take pictures of ourselves, we take pictures of landscapes, we take pictures of friends, and we take pictures of cats. Many, many pictures of cats. The question, of course, is what are we doing? What desires do these pictures represent? What is the story behind a selfie or the truth capture in a photography of a sleeping kitten? Continue reading

SZ8X802//The_Myriad_Transformations//City on the Fill

The next installment in the Myriad Transformations, “City on the Fill” is a series of riffs on land reclamation, both as an important feature of Shenzhen’s cultural ecology and as a metaphor for the replacement of southern Chinese culture with northern norms. 

2002

This image of the Shenzhen Bay coastline was taken behind the south gate of Shenzhen University in 2002. Squatters occupied the landfill and planted small vegetable gardens and raised chickens near their houses. Most worked in the informal economy, sorting garbage, working on nearby construction sites, and cultivating the oyster and fish farms that would be shut down in 2006. Today, the water  has been reclaimed and is part of the Hi-Tech corridor that connects the Tencent Headquarters to University town via Shenzhen University, branch campuses of Hong Kong universities, and office buildings of Shenzhen and China’s top hi-tech companies. Indeed, this area was the site of the Shenzhen Maker Faire, 2015. The building under construction in the background is the Yangri Wanpan (洋日湾畔)estates, next to the Coastal City Shopping Mall complex. However, what strikes me more than the “that was then feeling” of a landscape transformed is the squatters’ clothing; even in 2002, when Shenzhen was still a manufacturing city, squatters would have difficulty finding jobs in the formal economy where appearance was part of gaining employment.

2015

This is the Hi-Tech area, circa 2015. The white buildings in the left of the photograph comprise the Yangri Wanpan housing estates, which were under construction (and considered seafront property) in 2002. In 2015, the Hi-Tech area was the site of the Shenzhen Maker Faire, shown in the Chaihuo clip, below:

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everyday globalization

Current maps to Huaqiangbei suggest a state-of-the-art maker experience. High tech and high concept, these representations would have you forget how ordinary, how banal globalization actually is. The stuff of everyday life.

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“natural village” visiting artist: chen weicai

On March 29, Chengdu artist CHEN Weicai held his final salon at Handshake 302, showing us the work he created while in Baishizhou. He focused on two questions–materiality and rules of engagement. The results were inspiring. Here are a few of the pieces he created in and out of Baishizhou’s material substrate.

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Shuiwei through an Anthropologist’s Eyes

On March 23 and March 24, Handshake 302 brought the “Urban Flesh and Bones: Futian Edition” project to Shuiwei—one of our favorite urban villages. The Saturday tour was in Chinese and the Sunday tour was in English, but both tours were fully booked and even though the weather was overcast, everyone showed up. In fact, on Saturday afternoon, Handshake 302 led the tour in the rain!

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impressions from the other foxconn village

This is another “not all villages are equal” note, this time about access to the Guanlan Foxconn campus, which is surrounded by urban villages. These villages have differently benefited from the world’s number one maker of electronics. At the end of 2018, for example, Dashuikeng (大水坑) made international news as Vanke prepared to top-down gentrify it. Located just outside the southern entrance to the Guanlan Foxconn campus, Dashuikeng has provided more than inexpensive housing for company workers; it also offers housing for married workers, workers who want respite from company management, and workers who want more privacy. In contrast, while Jutang Community (桔塘社区) abuts Dashuikeng, nevertheless, it is not conveniently located near either of the campus’ two gates. This has meant that the neighborhoods that comprise Jutang are less commercialized, with much lower end housing available for the company’s lowest paid workers–truly just a place to sleep. Jutang occupies over 4.5 square kilometers and has a population of 40,000 people. My impressions, below:

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