When I first came to Shenzhen in 1995, the idea was to find a group of people who were willing to be interviewed, fill spiral notebooks with handwritten notes, and return to Rice to write-up said notes in 1996, or at the very latest, 1997 and then writing my way into an academic position. That didn’t happen. Instead, I stayed in Shenzhen until 1998, finished the dissertation in 1999, held a post-doc for one year, and then began the transition from trying to secure a tenure-track offer at a US university to figuring out what an American ex-pat might do in Shenzhen, which was itself transitioning from being a manufacturing hub into an innovation city. Continue reading
Why Singleton Lunch? Why invite someone to Handshake 302, have them prepare a meal, share it with a group of friends and strangers, and call it “art”? What’s the difference between a Singleton Lunch meal and more traditional forms of art like painting or theater or even a happening?
Happy Year of the Pig, which begins on February 5, 2019 and ends on January 25, 2020. May you and yours thrive, eat lots of good food and sleep fitfully.
On December 17, 2018 Handshake 302 started the “Visible Growth” public art workshop at Guangxi Normal University. The purpose of the workshop is simple: to help students figure out how to use what is at hand to create artwork that is accessible to the public. And yet. The purpose itself must be rethought. What, for example, is a “student”? What constitutes “help”? Who are the “public”? And lord knows, we still don’t know have a common definition of “art”? Continue reading
Over the past four weeks, Handshake 302 has participated in as many academic conversations about how art, society, and anthropology might inform each other. At Sun Yat-sen University, we discussed how the ethnographic method informs new kinds of art practices. At the Sichuan Academy of art, we encountered ideas about art as an expression of universal creativity, while at the Second International Modern Art Festival, we debated “human response.” Finally, at the National Academy of Art, we debated the sociality of diverse art practices.
These conversations have helped us conceptualize our practice more clearly because they reveal how important collaboration is. Handshake 302’s practice emerges at the intersection of art, society, and anthropology not because this is a great idea, but because each of our members brings a different skill set to the table; an ability to learn from each other is basic relationship that informs Handshake’s practice. We made a Venn diagram to show how we work and what it reveals is that the hand that reaches out to shake your hand is also the hand that continues traditions, that creates art, and that writes history. In other words, the creativity that each of us offers makes society, its art, and its knowledge about itself possible.
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On Saturday November 24, 2018, over twenty people joined Handshake 302 on our rediscovery of the commercial culture of the “Old Special Zone.” The program began in Hubei, traversed Dongmen and ended in the historic Guomao Revolving Restaurant. Over the course of the day, we discussed how Chaoshan migrants influenced Shenzhen’s “entrepreneurial” cultural geography, the role of the garment industry in Shenzhen’s early industrialization, and the way in which new infrastructure—especially the railroad and the East River waterworks—allowed the city to compensate for its lack of water resources. Continue reading