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Posts tagged ‘大陆漂流 Continental Drift’

I have to be honest, leaving Beijing and entering another climate, one with bees, dramatic cloud formations carried on cool breezes, and sunsets, it rather briskly plunges into an abstract idea. Of course, it doesn’t help that the transitions are managed within the privations of air travel and its dreamy borders. Something of the vague shadow of recall remains even after landing elsewhere (and even after returning, in this case to Beijing). We hear back from our friends and collaborators, in those bursts of attention, when they are not engulfed in the gentle rustling of the sprawling pumpkin vine, a lost bank card, jobs, and all immediate and present things, and isn’t it amazing how clothes and cups air-dry? But somehow those things that actually seem to make an idea or sentiment make sense—the lick of moisture, the depth of layers of sounds, synesthesia—fail to reach us. I have for a long time harboured a feeling that appeals to presence magicalize ordinary things, placing sense beyond explanation and language, glossing over and rendering inaccessible the potential, tacit domination of charisma, taste, identity. I wouldn’t be the first to muse on the values of absence, chance and indifference as contributing to a democratic aesthetic (which some might place in a properly Modernist and therefore outmoded tradition). But I have to acknowledge never having been able to fully account for why things fizzle at a distance.

I gave a talk while I was away, in an art centre in Montréal. I tried to present my experiences so far living in China, including projects and jobs I had done, the work of friends, and a general description of what living in Beijing and practicing art here is like. This was a format I had never tried in an artist-talk. My throat became dry because I talked so much, I worried I appeared like some kind of Lonely Planet ambassador, and feared my monotone delivery was driving some people’s eyelids to flutter druggedly. Those may be my paranoid projections on a listenership (and the feedback was positive, seemingly), but there were other creeping feelings behind the performance anxiety. The question a friend had asked a few days prior hovered somewhere in my descriptions, why do you live there? (Well, I ended up there rather *indifferently*…) I remarked on the visceral qualities of the urban makeup that make life exciting and challenging, and the state-in-formation that characterizes the place and people, which I announced might lead any of us to question the unfinished nature of our respective origins and positions. The motivations straddle all divisions, but in the context, I was referring to art. I went on: If there is no existing measure for how to gauge my success, neither based on the intensity of inclusion in the local art world, nor on my entrepreneurial exploits, nor rate of publication, nor institutional power, freedom, stability of life… then the ensuing parallel could surely be drawn that those in Canada who I was addressing, or my peers in Germany, the USA or anywhere, certainly had no such measures either. If success had been globalized, so had irrelevance, so had decadence.
Perhaps I’d better mention other examples before this turns into an analysis session about my particular case of ressentiment (and it’s a thin line whenever a self-reflexive voice is assumed). Meeting with some friends in my hometown Halifax about a project involving portable galleries, I sat back and watched a fascinating discussion unfold among the locals (I no longer the local) on the limits of the Canadian artist-run centre system. It seemed from other such conversations in different towns that this is something of a national hang-up, as particular players position themselves toward international networks and markets, and others solidify institutionalization, and most of them struggle.
We could argue the responsible use of a commercial system and the apparent independence it brings (not only in China) trumps the legalistic-bureaucratic state funding systems, which in any case support and are supported by the galleries; just as we could argue the cleverest position to be in is that of the court eunuch. For a little while this fancy played in my head when visiting old friends from Europe or Canada, as their practices circulated them around the whitish public art spaces, drinking good liquors, getting high marks on risk assessment from facilities management; as all the young poke around the daydream, what’s the best city in which to live? The given provides a host of calculated answers—including perhaps the narrative I seem to be advancing (here and in my Montréal talk—for the sake of the audience, of course): because I am nowhere I am everywhere, I am a representative.
But it is not a matter of a facile choice, and the stinging truth is that it’s not such an interesting debate, still assuming the tone of a report back, to one side or another. So what is interesting? What is particular, beyond our obsessions with conventions, power and our whatever singularity?

These questions connect back to one of those that lingered for me after our Continental Drift, that of practice (conveniently, practice entitles a moody and self-absorbed preamble, or it is sterile, doctorific.) In discussions on the approach for people who were not on it, it was stated that the experiment—or experience, as some emphasized—of Continental Drift would be shared and made public through subsequent works, texts and water-cooler anecdotes, the affects that feed into practice. We all gently contemplated what forms, what connections the latent and the stated alike would develop over time; would there be a future?
But a drift is not only a means to gathering materials for our practices, otherwise it would be a research trip, properly speaking; in its carrying out, it is meant as a practice in itself, one by which we expose our moods and personal dramas to various stimuli (reality) and to each other’s common experience. There are no objectively safe ways to go about it, echoing the ethical dilemmas of art mentioned above: one cannot prove one is not a conventional tourist, but neither should that stop one from going. As a group coming from different backgrounds, with different interests at stake, our interactions ranged from particular to common, from encountering each other, to discussing the massive changes apparent in China, which we are all somehow part of. Regarding this latter issue, given the topical relevance of globalization, even though I live here, I might have expected to take in visions of the forces of manufacture and development that drive global trade. Maybe they did in a way, but not how I anticipated; in Beijing, for instance, we observed the organization of space not according to the establishment of heavy industry, but according to priorities of culturalization: a model for the management of society, as Brian put it to me on our first day of meandering. This could be seen around Wuhan’s East Lake as well, as a natural resource was transformed into a capital-intensive development without passing through a significantly industrialized prior state; the post-industrial imaginary also permeated descriptions of the agrarian-becoming-peach-themed fantasyland in Lijiang. Maybe these correspondences aren’t surprising, as shifts in Chinese culture are feverishly tracked by foreign and domestic marketeers, and this is the face that asks to be seen anyhow. We did catch glimpses of the underside of this narrative, the chaotic, organic and banal, the preferential and the securitized, and the devastated. As empirically subjective as these firsthand experiences are, they are not the motifs that stick with me the most, that would come back most directly to ideas on practice, though the “method” itself is empowering, and must be repeated and improved upon. Rather, the most striking momentum on our Continental Drift was that of recognizing peers, whether they are in Hubei, Yunnan, New York, the Midwest, Beijing, or wherever. The point here was not in finally being acknowledged or something tragic like that, but simply in seeing that others have similar concerns and are there, doing it their way, whether or not the whole enterprise entails a sense of failure, a possibility we floated in our final meetings. Late one night, Claire Pentecost invoked the term “networks of validation,” which in my mind rescues the idea of the network from the hegemonic necessity that compels us all, all of the time. This doesn’t mean an alternative network that we can navigate for success; nor is it even a network for really breaking the distance between us, like a guarantee of a holier, democratic variation of presence. The world will hardly allow that, at least in this way. It is more useful as an ethical construction by which our practice sees itself, sees its potential expansion, as a constellation of knowledge, faculties and passions; sees its faults, its different faces, and that doesn’t romanticize its incongruity with its context or its powerlessness; and by which, perhaps, the idea of a common project is resuscitated. My own investments in such a construction are in figuring out how the paragraph above, on the vicissitudes of art practice at home and abroad, can be turned into something more interesting, as promised; which means not simply reflecting the inside/outside nature of an art world whose ambivalence won’t wash away; which means producing meaning tangled up with a messy world, with the tools I know how to use; which means conferring gravity to abstract ideas and places; which means having a screwdriver thrown at me, told to hot-wire a car, to go on a road trip.
What would you do?

Now really exactly one half year after the opening of HomeShop at Jiaodaokou Beiertiao and a dense period of activity, we come to a moment of conferring to a calmer period of assessment and reflection of our efforts. This calmness may stem from the recent (though not first attempt) stalling of certain web-based initiatives by big uncles above, including this website and the rePLACE project with its upcoming Beijing launch. It becomes therefore a natural next question to consider what things may be singled out for consideration by various audiences, what sensitive words could strike the fancy of those near and far. What does it take to make you notice, oh lover, and what does it take for you not to, scannerbot? Publicity is a series of picks and reviews, wooing whispers or a keyword engine——not so much a declaration of what is right or true, but perhaps merely a way of observing, admitting preferential treatment. Let us look at introspection from the perspective of what has been spit out in the last months. May you be forewarned, although there is a subtle difference between fermentation and rotting, this is what BALLSINESS has still been mounting, ever slowly, y e s…working on it.

For now, a picklist of recently reverberating sensitivities, as told through certain key activities which put them into motion. This is not to insinuate that they are forbidden in any way, but there are consequences which, by way of their identification, we can only hope to gain a larger perspective.

我爱你家 I Love Your Home(2010年5月)

(a pop-up real estate update)

[关键词 KEYWORD: Break-up Club]
Housing prices continue to soar in Beijing after the change in property buying regulations, such that a restriction in the number of properties (two for Beijingers, one for waidiren) a family may possess in their name at one time has pushed many homeowners to raise rent incomes, meaning the city’s renters—especially now at the dawn of a mysterious moon harkening the convening of a local Break-Up Club—shall suffer ever greatly. The search for low-cost housing for these young residents moving out of ex-boyfriend/girlfriend’s flats keeps competition fast and fierce, and as HomeShop neighbour Fan laoshi explains, “There’s no need to even advertise a room for rent, because word gets out so quickly our extra room was snatched up in a day or two.”

The following is a purely speculative stream of associations made on the part of the reporter, but the recent discovery that a small storefront space at Xiaojingchang Hutong number 6 had been put back on the market may very well be attributed to such a love-afflicted dynamic. Sources reveal that the young Chinese female tenant who inhabited the space after its term as HomeShop was rarely seen, but when at home was often accompanied by a tall Western male. Now that the space has been returned to the market, we can only make further speculations as to her latest whereabouts and latest boyfriends. All that remains is the collective nostalgia of short-lived Ikea furniture and a now tattered vinyl sign out front with a “家” character on it in a generic blue font.

For more information on renting the space at Xiaojingchang Hutong Number 6, no agent fee, please contact: lianxi[at]homeshop[dot]org[dot]cn.

大陆漂流.中国 Continental Drift China(2011年5月)

[关键词 KEYWORDS: 沉浮 chénfú, 纵向差异 vertical difference]
A post-drift discussion and later, the post-post-discussion lend to a complexly felt 沉浮 response after all that drifting. As Cici explains, chénfú pertains to a vertically oriented drift, similar to bobbing in water, whereas 漂流 piāoliú—as in the drift—may include more of a horizontal movement over geography and terrain. Though those of us from HomeShop stopped short of all the landscapes on this particular journey, our experiences in Beijing and Wuhan mark certain ambivalences between the 漂流 & the 沉浮, research for future writing or reflection & site for embedded experience and production, and also perhaps between structured programming & open play. Such struggles are not simply binary, as we note amidst certain ‘networks of validation’ that we search and flounder for the ways to balance, in and out of quandary. These are searches of organisation, searches of freedom within self-initiated systems of being together. They can move in all sorts of directions both vertical and lateral, but where ‘possible future models’ could be engaged remains to be seen. A publication, perhaps.

此地无声 The Sound of Nowhere(2011年6月)

[关键词 KEYWORD: 关键词 keyword]
Without having asked too many questions about the others, QU was highly satisfied with his grasp of 徐坦 XU Tan’s keywords performance at 米店 Detour restaurant, one of our local eateries and gathering spots. From the mention of only a few words here and there, we are able to delve very deeply into some very crucial subjects, including ___, ___, and ___. Keywords here are used as proof of our abilities to communicate in a productive way, but the following event left our bodies a bit more sensitive; see entry on the HomeShop Library Opening and the Happy Friends Reading Group.

家作坊“万物库”开幕与“快乐朋友阅读小组” HomeShop Library Opening and the Happy Friends Reading Group(2011年6月)

[关键词 KEYWORDS: 价值 value, 意义 meaning, absurdity]
Our keywords found heated barbaric inundation during the last Happy Friends Reading Group meeting coinciding with the opening of the HomeShop library. ‘Value‘ may not have been an intended discussion point for Borges’ “Library of Babel”, but several people were able to nod astoundingly at the disarray of miscommunication in the confounded attempts to assess sources for our own collective stream of consciousness. A movement towards response should not be a target of accusation, but in playing a game such as these group dynamics infer, we should perhaps always know who holds the ball and in which court. One cannot necessarily assume that affinities lead to team spirit, or worse, war-like mongreling, but as it were the very dissonances that our languages made felt resulted in a much more played-out performance rather than reading. Language is not common, but laughter is.

Note on “absurdity”:  there is a way out, or strategy, as advised by two of our finest young representatives, but one admires the other for his ability “to get serious”. More on this issue to follow; see WEAR journal number three.


关键词 KEYWORD: 二 Èr.
Number two is not only second best, pointing always to an other, but a ridiculousness that circles back to absurdity (see above).

关键词 KEYWORD: The Third.
Some beauty that is, though it has not yet been placed. This could be a lifelong endeavour, such that being asked to consider “value” (see above) in constant measure leads to considerable doubt that six months in bring us any closer; see also 无奈 wúnài.

关键词 KEYWORD: 邻居 Neighbour.
Poetry and language, or a still crucial nearing of metaphors and the frameworks that blind us. We always trade in oversimplified examples, such as pulling a tree from the ground, snails as food or medicine, and knowing whether the fish is happy or not. None of these riddles has been solved, but there is fear that the nearing could wreak an irreparable splintering. One compassioned shoulder claims that the smallness resulting from one’s mind being changed is what leads to a certain embarrassment or discomfort, but the same could be said about making certain aging affirmations that recur over and over again. Sometimes, a desolation comes because we haven’t changed our minds yet.

关键词 KEYWORDS: 你懂得.

时间变化:5点!Time changed to 5pm!

大陆漂流 . 中国

Continental Drift China
Final Public Forum Discussion
Where Where Exhibition Space
5 June 2011, 5pm

部分“大陆漂流-中国”项目的成员将于六月五日聚集在 “哪里哪里”艺术空间,开一个研讨会,作为这次项目的闭幕活动。

“大陆漂流.中国”项目将众多的艺术家,策展人,理论家,与活动家召集到一起,共同探索当 代地理政治转化对于公共框架与亲密生存 空间的影响。


本次大陆漂流项目由 武汉的“我们家”青年自治实验室,北京的“家作坊”,“哪里哪里”策展联盟,与芝加哥的“罗盘”(美国中西部激进文化走廊)等组织共同合作举办。

Please join us for a public discussion with participants of the Continental Drift China project.

Continental Drift China brings together artists, curators, theorists, and activists to explore the impacts that current geopolitical transformations are having on the public frameworks and intimate environments of existence. The diverse group that began it tour in China on May 18th seeks to share experiences, find affinities in process, and discover in local communities the personal links that can generate and sustain new engagements for visual arts. The group’s route in China has taken them around the older neighborhoods of Beijing, the ports of Tianjin, the hills and waterways of Wuhan, and the rural areas of Lijiang. Built on a premise of open dialogue, China Drift provides an opportunity for individuals to consider the ways in which art can foster a deeper reflection on the forces shaping the world around us.

The Continental Drift China has been developed by Womenjia Youth Autonomy Lab, HomeShop and the Where Where Curatorial Collective, in conjunction with Compass (of the Midwest Radical Culture Corridor).

邮编: 100015(北京)
电话:159 1080 3790

Where Where Exhibition Space
No. 319-1, East End Art Zone A, Caochangdi Village,
Chaoyang District, Beijing, P. R. China, 100015,
Tel: 159 1080 3790

大陆漂着 Continental Drifting

18 May – 5 June 2011

“大陆漂流.中国”活动将众多的艺术家,策展人,理论家,与活动家召集到一起,共同探索当 代地理政治转化对于公共框架与亲密生存 空间的影响。在一周的时间里,本活动将“漂”在北京,尝试将抽象分析(经济,社会学,都市生活研究,美学等等)直接导入不同的艺术实践当中。通过报告,工 作坊,讨论会与实地考察等方式,我们希望自己能在闹市与乡间的穿梭中构建一个充满欢乐,感觉试验,偶遇与思考的游历方式。

The Continental Drift China brings together artists, curators, theorists, and activists to explore the impacts that current geopolitical transformations are having on the public frameworks and intimate environments of existence. For one week, the roving seminar will drift through Beijing, endeavouring to bring abstract analysis (economics, sociology, urbanism, aesthetics, etc.) into direct contact with situated projects. By way of presentations, a workshop, discussion sessions and site visits, the project provides a movement through space thriving on conviviality, perceptual experimentation, unexpected encounters and informed travel in both metropolitan and rural settings.


For detailed descriptions of each of the events listed, please see below. Note that not all events are at the same location; addresses are listed accordingly.


合辑 Selections 】底特律音乐人类学赏析,王念华主讲  /  an evening of musical anthropology led by Dan S. WANG

Thursday, 19 May, 19.00
location:HomeShop, Dongcheng District, Jiaodaokou Beiertiao 8

杨先让 YANG Xianrang 】(艺术家, 曾任中央美术学院民间美术系主任)讲座  /  a Talk with Professor YANG Xianrang, artist and former head of the Central Academy of Fine Arts Folk Arts and Crafts department

Saturday, 21 May, 10.30
location:HomeShop, Jiaodaokou Beiertiao 8

西遊计划 Journey West 】艺术假扮旅行社简单开张  /  A “Journey West” Travel Agency performative soft opening

Saturday, 21 May, 16.00
location:41 Zhonglouwan Hutong (next door to The Drum and Bell Bar)

《北二条小报》工作坊 Beiertiao Leaks self-publishing workshop

Sunday & Monday, 22-23 May, 10.00 until the presses are hot
location:HomeShop, Jiaodaokou Beiertiao 8

从5月23日“大陆漂流”继续向武汉与重庆漂流,6月4日返回北京。如果你对我们下一步的旅行感兴趣,请e-mail垂询: lianxi[圈A]homeshop[点]org[点]cn
From the 23rd of May until the 4th of June, the Drift continues on to Wuhan and Chongqing before rounding back up in Beijing. If you are interested to continue with us on this leg of the journey, please inquire: lianxi[at]homeshop[dot]org[dot]cn.

“大陆漂流.中国” 总结论坛  Continental Drift China Final Forum】“哪里哪里” 艺术空间将与大陆漂流参加者联合举办一个开放总结论坛。更多的详情稍候发布。 /  The Where Where Exhibition Space in Caochangdi will host a final forum with China Drift participants open to the public. More details to be announced.

地点:“哪里哪里” 艺术空间
Sunday, 5 June, 15.00
location:Where Where Exhibition Space
No. 319-1, East End Art Zone A, Caochangdi

本次大陆漂流活动由 “我们家” 青年自治中心,“家作坊”,“哪里哪里”策展联盟,与“罗盘”(美国中西部激进 文化走廊)等组织共同合作举办。
The Continental Drift China is developed by Desireè Youth Autonomy Center, HomeShop and the Where Where Curatorial Collective, in conjunction with Compass (of the Midwest Radical Culture Corridor).

豆瓣同城活动 Douban event page:www.douban.com/event/13954395/

更多关于“大陆漂流.中国”的参加者信息,继续读… For more information about participants of the Continental Drift China, please continue reading.