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
because the kids are just that cute! These pictures are from Nov 11 and Dec 3, if you have time, join us Sunday, Dec 10 and 17 for more afternoon fun at the P+V Migrations exhibition.
This past few days I’ve been in Changde, participating in the “Chance Encounter” Contemporary Arts Festival. Its the first of its kind in the city, and attempts to bridge between the city’s rich heritage of carpentry and stone-cutting with the capitalist juggernaut that has made its way to China’s so-called “third tier” cities.
This past week, I had the pleasure of visiting the Taipei Dream Community, a fascinating place where Gordon Tsai has used real estate to push forward hippie dreams–redeveloping Xizhi (汐止), stimulating community through carnivals, and artist residencies.
The Dalang Experimental School comprises elementary and middle schools for the children of migrant workers in Dalang New District. On June 8, they held a festival for their 30+ clubs, which range from art to karate and debate. The point, of course, is simple: at school in their uniforms painting, dancing, and helping each other, they look like every other young Shenzhener because they ARE just like the Shenzhen Middle School students we are working with at the Handshake for the Future exhibition. Well, except for access to high school, which is regulated through the upcoming High School Entrance exam (for a point by point on why in Shenzhen this exam is more important than the college entrance exam).
Two weekends ago, Handshake 302 collaborated with Dalang New District on the Graffiti Festival (the amazing stair mural at the Youth Dream Center). We also worked with the Experimental School to bring murals and graffiti into the schoolyard. Young Mr. Ye, a second generation Shenzhener via Gangxia, organized the event through the art club. Students started on designs early. For the festival, the club asked groups of students to submit a design proposal, 17 groups from both the elementary and middle schools made the cut.
Impressions of the festival, below, and yes, many, many pictures of kids being great:
The world has glommed on to Shenzhen’s Maker culture, but what is often left undetected is just how Maker Plus the city actually is. Yesterday afternoon at Handshake 302, we held the opening for projects by interior design students from the Guangdong Xin’an Polytechnic College. During the opening, the conversation about their work focused on bridging the distance between design and implementation. A key thought came from Lei Sheng, Handshake 302’s master craftsman (seriously, he can make anything): in an information age, information isn’t the most important element for creativity. Instead, the knowledge of making things with our hands–craftsmanship–is the key to a successful design career.
Handshake 302 has been we-chatting in Chinese for half a year now. We are now starting to offer updates in English as well. If you scan our barcode (above), you will receive updates in English and Chinese about one of Shenzhen’s most vibrant public arts projects. The updates also include information about upcoming events and instructions about how to join our events. Welcome to the conversation!
Yesterday at the Dalang Youth Dream Center, we created a large mural/graffiti image on the public steps/bench. It is a two-picture work: from the front it simply says “youth”, but from the upper levels of the dormitory, it is possible to see the larger images of flowers and cartoon monsters playing in the grass. Walking the steps gives even more chances for discovery. We were amazingly lucky with the weather; just as we finished, the skies let loose a major thunder storm. Below, a slideshow that documents the process.
Liu He is one of the more active curators at Handshake 302. While we are waiting for the students to prepare their “Shake Hands with the Future”exhibition, he is using the space as a refuge for people who want 8 hours alone, without their phone. The project, “Hidden in the City” is simple. At 9:30, Liu He meets the participant at Handshake 302, makes sure they have water and understand how the toilet works (and often doesn’t) and then takes their phone. At 10:00 a.m., the participant is “on the clock”, on retreat from the city for the next 8 hours, coming off at 6:00, when the cell phone will be returned, a dinner served along with a 302 salon/ discussion about what it all means. Below a translation of Liu He’s curatorial statement for “Hidden in the City”; the Chinese version follows. Continue reading
Our current project, “Shake Hands with the Future” started last week, when curator Liu He and I went to Shenzhen Middle School to talk with students about an after school project to investigate and creatively respond to the urban villages in their neighborhood. And, because Shenzhen Middle School is located right next to Dongmen, the school is also next to several of the most iconic urban villages. So very excited about what the students will bring us.