“Shenzhen Speed” has become a catchphrase amongst urban planners and journalists, makers and ordinary citizens to describe the transformation of Bao’an County into Shenzhen Municipality. In less than forty years, highways have replaced lychee orchards, high-rises have replaced oyster fields, and wi-fi has become as common as coffee shops and fast fashion. Boom!
Here’s the thing: the speed of historical transformation may be blinding us to how quickly we’re forgetting how we got here. Continue reading
Friday August 25, 2017 I had the honor of participating in the closing meeting of the second edition of the “Shenzhen Oral History” project. It was a high level and exciting cultural event that commemorated the people who contributed to Shenzhen’s second decade, 1992-2002. A week later on Friday September 1, I attended the salon for Wu Xingyu and Zhong Yuxiao’s art project “Demolition.” Continue reading
We are slow, but we move forward. Here’s Handshake’s most recent intro-PDF:
We know that Shenzhen is an immigrant city, but inquiring minds wonder: where do the immigrants come from? Based on the recent release of Shenzhen statistics (for 2015), I’ve come up with the following chart that gives a crude (very, very crude) approximation of where Shenzhen’s residents are from circa 2014. Of note, if Chongqing and Sichuan counted as one place, instead of as a city and province respectively, the area would be roughly tied with Hunan for second most common origin. And yes, this corresponds with my (again vague) impression that Guangdong, Hunan, and Sichuan/Chongqing restaurants dominate the city’s eating!
There’s much I could say about why community art programs matter, but. Sock puppets! Incredibly cute kids! Everything that matters. Here.
Tomorrow afternoon, Handshake 302 collaborates with Future+ to explore the Baishizhou soundscapes. The workshop program begins with an hour-long tour to collect sounds and a 1.5 hour sound workshop with resident artist Zhang Mengtai. Meet-up at Baishizhou Metro Exit A.
Just saw this poster advertising the opportunity to purchase a house on a small Malaysian island next to Singapore. The houses are relatively large and the agent is conveniently located in Shenzhen. The appeal? One can “[R]eturn to Shenzhen ten years ago, and invest in the Special Zone of a Special Zone.”
Here’s the rub. I saw this in an apartment complex in Dalang, at least twenty minutes from the nearest subway station. Everyone wants to by a house, and even places as relatively remote as Dalang are no longer viable options for migrants, even if they have a job, and even if they have savings.
On my way from said subway station to the elevator where this advert was posted, the cabby explained that since Lift (didi) and Uber had come to Shenzhen, it was no longer profitable to drive a cab. He planned on going back home to Jiangxi. When I mentioned that it seemed more and more people were leaving the city, he agreed, saying “there noticeably less people on the street.”
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
I am a freckled and pinkish, slightly overweight female. I have soft hands and I play at manual labor rather than work to earn a living. However, I am increasingly aware that this body does not obey. It aches and bursts, creams desire, flinches, hungers, sweats and thirsts. This body itches and yearns, screams and wobbles, swells and grows lumpy. It grumbles and leaks and trundles forward. But, it does not obey. Fortunately my bathroom door hides the work necessary to appear as if I were an ethereal, delicate being unencumbered by the body’s needs and its (increasing) failures. I close the door, drop my pants, piss and wipe, scour away grime and smooth my eyebrows as I squint at the face in the mirror; clear eyes, small ears, heavy cheeks, and wrinkled neck. I straighten my blouse and return to the party. Continue reading
The China*Africa Research Initiative at Johns Hopkins has just published results of three years of research on how Chinese Investment in Africa is Not What You Think. The site is a great jumping off point for thinking about new forms of globalization and China’s increasing international presence. Shenzhen keeps showing up in all of this as the desired result…