…another episode of Shenzhen Book of Changes is online. Learn about the wonderful tastes at Amo Congee Restaurant!
Here’s the thing, when making dinner plans–or dim sum plans or coffee plans or dinner plans–there are some neighbourhoods that are better than others.That said, its also clear that the consequences of village demolitions and ongoing construction of residential developments at subway stations include the replacement of independently owned restaurants with more expensive chains. This means that it is not only increasingly harder to afford just to go out, but it is increasingly difficult to find mom and pops places around the corner for a cheap night out. Sigh.
The women of Shuiwei continue to make the village, one treat at a time. For Grave Sweeping Day (清明节), they gathered in the village kitchen to make a variety of traditional snacks. The treats are steamed and vegetarian. What’s not to love?
This past week I have been in Shuiwei learning to wrap zongzi (粽子) for the upcoming Dragon Boat Festival. What is apparent is not simply the re-invention of tradition, but also the unpaid work that women do to create that solidarity. The zongzi making takes place over 10 days—two prep days and then 8 days of wrapping and boiling. The hours are long: 6:30 a.m. to midnight or later. Of note: Continue reading
The other day, I walked from Huaqiangbei through Gangxia and Xinzhou, where I hooked back to Shuiwei via Huanggang Park, a wonderfully unexpected urban oasis. Today, I’m uploading impressions of the diverse complexity that characterizes Futian Distict, which is home to Huaqiangbei, the central business district, and some of the most well-planned urban villages in the city.
Just recently got my paws on “The History of Yumin Village (渔民村村史)”. Yumin Village, of course, was the village that Deng Xiaoping visited in 1984, during his first inspection trip to the SEZs. Xi Jinping followed up with a visit in 2012. So yes, this village has played an important symbolic role both in the ideological construction of post-Mao society and in representations of pre-reform
Shenzhen Bao’an County. What struck me as I flipped through the pages was how this transformation can be readily represented in the changing typology of “farmer housing (农民房)”. Continue reading
The CEO of Shuiwei Holdings Ltd, Zhuang Weicai loves collecting. He has been collecting rocks, calligraphy, traditional paintings, teapots and tea, trees and Han Dynasty tiles and figurines for over twenty-five years. He even has a dinosaur skeleton. The fruit of his passion is housed in the Shuiwei Rock Art Museum, which is not a museum per se, but rather a contemporary cabinet of curiosities that reveals as much about Zhuang Weicai’s eclectic taste as it delights visitors. As a social fact, it also reconfigures how we think of collecting in an era of corporate museums.
Historically speaking, Cabinets of Curiousities (and yes, we are talking about items, rather than the feeling of curiosity) appeared in Rennaissance Europe. Precursors to the modern museum, Cabinets were nevertheless characterized by the tastes, experiences, and unexpected encounters of elites, who expressed and sought knowledge, broadly defined. Simultaneously, these collections also demonstrated the magnificence and power of a given ruler. Thus, for example, Rudolf II, Holy a roman Emperor brought dignitaries and ambassadors to his Kunstkammer in a ritual display of all that he reigned.
Cabinets of Curiousities have been studied by cultural critics and repurposed by artists. There have been extended critiques of Anthropology’s vexed relationship to the impulse to and practices of collecting. After all, many of the world’s leading natural history, ethnographic, and archaeological collections were a direct result of colonial occupation and subsequent looting slash removal of local items and their display as “curiousities” or “artifacts” in Europe and North America.
Here’s what I’m mulling today: what is the significance of Shuiwei’s Rock Art Museum?
Chronologically, the Art Rock Museum appeared well after the Rennaissance transition from individual to public collections. However, it is not a private art collection. It is a natural history collection that celebrates a traditional aesthetic that many educated Chinese have eschewed in favor of science and contemporary art. It is open to visitors throughout the week. And it really is more fun to visit than many of the stuffy museums that show off expertise rather than passion; the collection makes it obvious that Zhuang Weicai really does love rocks.
I haven’t reached a theoretical conclusion. However, I do think the Rock Art Museum does give insight into the different cultural logics that inform urban village style urbanization and official state directed urbanization. So, take an afternoon to visit and the explore Shuiwei itself. The Rock art Museum is located in the heart of Shuiwei, which is itself one of the best eateries in Shenzhen. Impressions of the Shuiwei Kunstkammer, below.