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


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

china in africa

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…

bashizhou, may 20, 2016, dusk

Baishizhou in the early evening: buying vegetables, walking home, waiting for the demolition of the old industrial area, which will begin after the elementary schools have closed and children relocated…

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Digging a Hole in China

This afternoon I had the pleasure of attending the opening of the Digging a Hole in China (事件的地貌) exhibition, curated by Venus Lau. the exhibition features a range of works that were produced from the mid-1990s forward, roughly a decade after the idea of land art had been picked up by Chinese artists and only a few years after Deng Xiaoping’s 1992 Southern Tour, where he confirmed that China would continue to liberalize its economy. The stated goal of the exhibition, which positions itself between China and the West is,

[T]o expose and analyze the discrepancies between this genre of work and ‘conventional’ land art understood in the Western-centric art historical context, thereby probing the potential of ‘land’–as a cultural and political concept–in artistic practice.

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administrative shenzhen, circa 2015

Today, I’m translating a recent update from the Shenzhen Government online–Shenzhen administrative divisions. For those interested in who belongs where, it is an amazingly useful collection of maps. It also introduces the ongoing administrative history of Shenzhen, providing key dates in administrative restructuring. This translation interests as much for what it includes as what it does not; Shekou is notably absent from the administrative history of Shenzhen and this particular version of municipal historiography. Moreover, although this historiography shows when the government apparatus has made grabs to regulate and standardize local production, its unclear what happened in the outer districts when all this inner re-districting was going on. In other words, the official historiography of Shenzhen’s administrative history seems a straight-forward and uncomplicated process. Continue reading

let’s dance


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