wither the craftsmen?

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.

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preservation ecologies

Guanhu (官湖) and Shayuchong (沙渔涌) Villages are within walking distance to each other along the Dapeng coastline. Guanhu is the village that has developed Jiaochangwei. A small settlement at the mouth of a river, Shayuchong is undergoing a complete renovation that is reminiscent of the horrific universidade paint-overs. Both villages are in various stages of redevelopment. And in the details I trace Shenzhen’s complicated preservation ecologies, where beauty, kitsch desires, and too much money take strange and curious form. Impressions from today’s walk, below.

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hubei: recognizing “value”

The current focus on preserving Hubei Old Village obscures just how much Special Zone history and everyday life will be demolished to make way for the new China Resources development downtown. What’s at stake are competing understandings of what makes a good life for whom and who gets to decide the form and function of the city. Continue reading

dalang commercial center

Off the beaten track (or at least a 15 minute bus ride from the Longhua subway station), Dalang remains one of the manufacturing centers of Shenzhen as well as one of the few spaces where it is still possible to see container trucks of various sizes trundling about. The landscape itself is a dense mix of industrial parks, proper urban villages, collectively held property, and limited public and commercial property. In other words, the area retains much of its morphology from when Longhua was officially a market town (镇, 1986-2004) and the entire area was developed through rural institutions.

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bitou, or the spatial consequences of deindustrialization

In the early spring, I arrived at the Songgang bus stop, “under the bridge”–a pedestrian overpass on the G107 expressway. The stop teemed with migrant workers and motorcycle cabbies, who screamed, “Where are you going?” Continue reading

emptied out / true emptiness

Last week, I participated in the “真空” art week. 真空  means emptied out or true emptiness. The curatorial statement (translated below) emphasizes how urban renewal is “emptying out” the villages and what remains is neither this, nor that. Almost buddhist, except we’re still yearning and true emptiness alludes us.  Continue reading

what i think i saw (in delhi)

A week in Delhi, thinking about globalizing urbanization and its proliferating urbanisms with the wonderful team at the Centre for Policy Research and colleague Fu Na from Shenzhen Center for Design.  Currently, untangling so many thoughts about infrastructure, waste generation, generosity, desire and inequality, heat, color and spice, traveling impressions of china, gender, aggression, and the mental barbed wire necessary to construct “Delhi” out of a few days walking tour. This trip also has me noticing the stories that I notice, some documented, below.

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