line 11 mini encyclopedia: futian stations

Insights into what Futian was before it was the political center of the city.

the line 11 mini encyclopedia is online (and so is the subway)

For the past six months or so, I have been working on a project that illuminates Shenzhen history stop-by-stop along the new metro lines. Line 11 is up and so is the mini encyclopedia. I’ll be putting the pages up over the next week or so. Enjoy!


shatou renovations. again

So, as the Xiasha Kingkey project finishes up, another urban renovation project begins in neighboring Shangsha. Below, impressions of the Xiasha plaza, the Kingkey complex along Binhe Road, and the state of unmaking in Shangsha.

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dragon boat festival preparations

This past week I have been in Shuiwei learning to wrap zongzi (粽子) for the upcoming Dragon Boat Festival. What is apparent is not simply the re-invention of tradition, but also the unpaid work that women do to create that solidarity. The zongzi making takes place over 10 days—two prep days and then 8 days of wrapping and boiling. The hours are long: 6:30 a.m. to midnight or later. Of note: Continue reading

gangxia: walking the remaining village

Walked through the remaining section of Gangxia and noticed the strong contrasts of a sunny day: bright and dark, sun and shadows smack in the middle of Shenzhen’s Central axis. Check it out:

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“evolution” in progress

Lei Sheng and I have worked together with a team of craftsmen from a Shenzhen factory to create “Evolution”, a site specific installation for the Shenzhen Public Sculpture Exhibition. The show opens tomorrow in Shenzhen central park, along side the Futian River. Comments and thoughts tomorrow, along with images of finished sculpture and other installations. To contextualize project, please click houhai, land reclamation and/ or oysters in the tag cloud. Below, pictures of evolutionary progress.

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shuiwei kunstkammer

The CEO of Shuiwei Holdings Ltd, Zhuang Weicai loves collecting. He has been collecting rocks, calligraphy, traditional paintings, teapots and tea, trees and Han Dynasty tiles and figurines for over twenty-five years. He even has a dinosaur skeleton. The fruit of his passion is housed in the Shuiwei Rock Art Museum, which is not a museum per se, but rather a contemporary cabinet of curiosities that reveals as much about Zhuang Weicai’s eclectic taste as it delights visitors. As a social fact, it also reconfigures how we think of collecting in an era of corporate museums.

Historically speaking, Cabinets of Curiousities (and yes, we are talking about items, rather than the feeling of curiosity) appeared in Rennaissance Europe. Precursors to the modern museum, Cabinets were nevertheless characterized by the tastes, experiences, and unexpected encounters of elites, who expressed and sought knowledge, broadly defined. Simultaneously, these collections also demonstrated the magnificence and power of a given ruler. Thus, for example, Rudolf II, Holy a roman Emperor brought dignitaries and ambassadors to his Kunstkammer in a ritual display of all that he reigned.

Cabinets of Curiousities have been studied by cultural critics and repurposed by artists. There have been extended critiques of Anthropology’s vexed relationship to the impulse to and practices of collecting. After all, many of the world’s leading natural history, ethnographic, and archaeological collections were a direct result of colonial occupation and subsequent looting slash removal of local items and their display as “curiousities” or “artifacts” in Europe and North America.

Here’s what I’m mulling today: what is the significance of Shuiwei’s Rock Art Museum?

Chronologically, the Art Rock Museum appeared well after the Rennaissance transition from individual to public collections. However, it is not a private art collection. It is a natural history collection that celebrates a traditional aesthetic that many educated Chinese have eschewed in favor of science and contemporary art. It is open to visitors throughout the week. And it really is more fun to visit than many of the stuffy museums that show off expertise rather than passion; the collection makes it obvious that Zhuang Weicai really does love rocks.

I haven’t reached a theoretical conclusion. However, I do think the Rock Art Museum does give insight into the different cultural logics that inform urban village style urbanization and official state directed urbanization. So, take an afternoon to visit and the explore Shuiwei itself. The Rock art Museum is located in the heart of Shuiwei, which is itself one of the best eateries in Shenzhen. Impressions of the Shuiwei Kunstkammer, below.

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next to go: huanggang

The plans for renovating Huanggang have been released–just in case you were wondering, “How quickly can Shenzhen remake itself in its own ever shifting image?” That said, Tianmian has also evicted the design companies and is gearing up to raze and renovate its former industrial park. In fact some areas of the city–looking at you OCT–are preparing the fourth generation of urban plan. Below, the maps and images of Huanggang 3.0, urbanized villages vanishing except as real estate companies.

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fuhua south road

Impressions of a walk along Fuhua South Road. This is one of the oldest areas in the city. Of note, the street is busy and vibrant and runs parallel to Shennan Road, which is wide and long and filled with vehicular traffic, but few pedestrians.

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futian district, report on

Shenzhen rushes forward, or keeps rushing forward. The Districts also hurry along toward goals that change with a shift in leadership. And yet the meetings drag. Even an hour. Drag.

Day before yesterday, Futian District invited me to observe their report on the work of the government. Wang Qiang presented. Highlights? The speed at which the economy continues to lurch upward. Futian per capita GDP hit US$32,700 surpassing that of South Korea. Indeed, the report of government work began with economic statistics and just kept pounding home the point — the business of government is, well, business. Futian fixed assests grew at 8.5 percent, exports surged 50%, and tax revenues grew at 7.7% surpassing all other districts. Futian has developed something called a “building economy” that is basically tax revenue from specific buildings. In 2013, five more buildings were added to the list of 68 buildings generating more than 100 million yuan in annual tax revenue. The economic focus is high-end industry and includes what is apparently called “headquarters economy (总部经济)” whereby a government attracts multinational companies to locate their headquarters in a particular territory. Apparently three Fortune 500 companies also invested in Futian.

Futian holds shopping festivals, electronics consumption festivals at Huaqiangbei, and is promoting commerce growth. The District has introduced six international or state level innovation centers, including the Cisco R&D Center and the Functional Materials Research Institute under the Chinese Academy of Engineering Physics. Futian is promoting intellectural property rights service intustries and a pilot zone for “technology plus finance development”. Intensive development of industrial land (Futian has many older industrial parks), online interface between the public and government, and more sophisticated forms of urban management — all are projects forwarded in 2013… anyway, you get the idea. Information dump. Drag.

But. There was a point (from the translated report):

Our achievements over the past year can be attributed to the correct leadership of the municipal committee of the CPC, the municipal government and the district committee of the CPC, as well as the efforts by the people of Futian.

The District’s English portal introduces Futian and its charms. To illustrate the ongoing transformation of Futian, I offer photographic impressions from the subway installation at Huaqiangbei.

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