Yesterday, I walked Huangbeiling, which is located on the eastern section of Shennan Road. Before the construction of the subway system, Huangbeiling felt like the end of the accessible SEZ; there was more beyond, but getting there required a car or plans for a day trip. Today, Huangbeiling is a major transportation transit hub, linking the downtown area to the eastern coast.
Huangbeiling still feels like a golden era urban village, albeit recovering from Covid shutdowns. The layout of the village is against and up the Wutong Mountain Range, with enough nooks and crannies for unexpected encounters: a household temple to Guanyin, a mountain park with feral cats hanging out in tree branches, and good, relatively cheap food.
Sixteen years ago, one of the earliest Fat Bird guerrilla performances was held at the Huangbeiling pet market. Dogs and cats were just becoming fixtures–like cars and branded items–of the middle class Shenzhen lifestyle. Fat Bird “rented” a large dog cage for about five minutes before security guards and village leaders appeared and asked us to leave In the video of the post-performance interview you can also glimpse what this section of Shennan Road used to be like. After the performers were asked to leave, we jumped on a bus and went across the city to Chiwan. The short performance gives a sense of both the transformation of the area, as well as the relative openness of the city at the time compared to the present moment.