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HomeShop opened its library
to the public this summer. Although its collection comprises “not-yet 10,000 items,” the moment had already arrived for questions about the content, triggering a conversation that I joined the other day in HomeShop’s front space, on the issues of inclusion and exclusion.

As the library grows mostly through donations from friends and neighbors, certain patterns gradually emerge: all the books someone couldn’t take with them, some flea market novelties, something that “might come in handy.” To host anything, or hypothetically everything, would mean all the “bad” as well. Bad in the case of a library means the superfluous, the unhelpful, maybe the hateful; from another perspective, one never knows who will value what in a public library, and cutting away the inessential means cutting away part of a potential public. The central ambiguity of any archive lies on these fissures between values. This is also dependent on the reality of passing time, by which bad qualities are outlasted as a generation shifts and becomes other to itself; however, this process is most apparent in archives proper as opposed to libraries (who, in the future, will honestly cherish all of the pulp novels as books, as opposed to documents? Or do they, even at present?). One can then imagine, as did Jorge Luis Borges, a Babylonian library comprising all that was and is, in effect re-constructing the universe in type, a disorienting and endless universe in which we all dwell.

But of course other hard realities emerge to rebut this imaginary, unlimited possibility: space and order. HomeShop’s shelves are small, but not yet full. The intention of our conversation to edit the inventory—resulting, ironically, in only one or two withdrawals—therefore compromised on a discussion of what inclusion and exclusion mean. As an independent project initiated by individuals (namely, Fotini Lazaridou-Hatzigoga and Elaine W. Ho), whose nurturing is guided by particular investments rather than indifference, the HomeShop Library recalls Walter Benjamin’s words: “But one thing should be noted: the phenomenon of collecting loses its meaning as it loses its personal owner. Even though public collections may be less objectionable socially and more useful academically than private collections, the objects get their due only in the latter.”(1) But with its simple principle of acquisition and circulation based on personal relations, the HomeShop collection becomes a living and metabolic portrait of a community, complicating the possessive fondness of Benjamin’s ideal bourgeois collector.

The ordering methodology can be recognized as not as rigid or as rigorous as that of Beijing’s National Library of China, though it shares the Chinese Library Classification system’s categorizations (starting, of course, with Marx & Mao, passing next through religion and philosophy, proceeding to the hard sciences at the bottom/base). But where the State institution speaks the language of publicness with its vast architectural spaces and purportedly unparalleled collection, the State’s very ordering protocols eliminate even the imaginary possibility of housing the universe on its shelves, where this could at least be a fantasy in HomeShop’s case. (A review of the oddities in the not unimpressive foreign languages section at the National Library is enough to wonder what is the basis for their acquisitions; recommendations are not invited, I was told.) The universe, after all, is composed of many, many small and particular things, not just the mapped planets and giant balls of gas. Even without space, attentiveness and affect define an alternative order of ordering. As the Indian archival project Pad.ma points out: “To not wait for the archive is often a practical response to the absence of archives or organized collections in many parts of the world. It also suggests that to wait for the state archive, or to otherwise wait to be archived, may not be a healthy option.”(2)

One pertinent irony of our contemporary media-saturated world is the State’s inability to accommodate the histories that make up the most intimate (ie. unofficial) parts of people’s lives, which actually make up the majority of all stories. But is the ambition of the (art) project to recover all lost histories, to pursue the exhaustion of this chaotic universe on its shelves? And do we hope that the State eventually takes up the pursuit of accounting for this breadth of experience? But isn’t it true that they already do to some extent, through the surveillance of all of our movements and stockpiling of all of our utterances? The gap exposed is therefore not the abyss of quantities, but the ground on which qualities are encouraged to develop. HomeShop’s library, emphasizing the knowledge and feeling that flow from individuals and can be borrowed—social exchanges, that is to say—hosts a potential to reflect the library as a universe despite or rather because of its modesty, its ethics-under-development. That said, at the end of our afternoon crusade of book-purging, we finally had to put off the decision of what to cut, until some other moment in the future.

Michael Eddy

The HomeShop Library is open daily for browsing and for borrowing. Please come by.

(A Chinese version of this text to appear in upcoming issue of Yishu Shijie Magazine / 中国版的这段文字会出现在“艺术世界”杂志。)

1. Walter Benjamin, “Unpacking my library” in Illuminations
2. From Pad.ma’s “10 Theses on the Archive.” Visit Pad.ma’s alternative video archive: http://pad.ma/

《你吃了吗?》是一篇有关农业以及食品生产和消费的艺术家实践汇编。本汇编相当于一个 数据库,其目的是帮助人们收集,对比,和学习这些艺术家的实践,意图,方法,社会网络。它是一 个正在进行中的列表,这一列表是在中国的语境和可获得的信息条件下为《市集/Country Fair》项目 所做的。但它也寻求这类实践的国际信息。本汇编在网络和市集上都可以找到。 因为这类艺术实践在现代艺术中谈及的较少,所以本数据库是很有必要的。颇具讽刺的是可及性还是许多这类艺术 家的项目所关注的。泛泛地说,虽然这些艺术实行常常跟本地环境、经济和社会体 系有关,但是它们大部分也关系到共有知识网络,在许多情况下 也巧妙地,综合地使用了科技手段。 当 然,艺术家个人网站上的信息是更深入的;《你吃了吗?》只是走近他们工作的一个切入点 。

“Have you eaten yet?” is a collection of artist practices that work with farming and food production and consumption. It is meant as a database to find, compare and learn from these art practices, and their intentions, their methods, their networks. This is an ongoing list being compiled for the project Country Fair, within the context of China and the information available here, but it seeks to connect information of these practices internationally. It is presented online as well as at each Country Fair.

请访问! Please visit!

random tidbits and news, all the engagements around the “real” activity:

>> 家作坊《穿》杂志的“DIY发行计划”已经开始了!《穿》已经通过我们亲爱的邮递员从北京来到了上海(感谢Ed!),鹿特丹(谢谢你,Michael Y!),柏林(再次感谢Michael Y!),纽约(感谢Qingqing,Josh和Jocko!),多伦多(感谢Barbara和Stephanie!),还有日内瓦(谢谢飞雅!)。上面的图片是背着我们家作坊“户外/室内两用包”的飞雅在徒步行走的样子,包包里面你们知道装的是什么!有人要即将进行旅游吗?想得到一个“户外/室内两用包”吗?我们需要您强健的臂膀和支持!快联系并加入我们的队伍吧!

>> CPU:PRO的Edward Sanderson最近到访了家作坊并和我们中的一些人有过一次简短的讨论,这是他正在进行的中国“非主流”艺术空间考察项目的一部分,这里是我们的谈话记录。

>> 经过了漫长的拖延和等待,最新一期的关注与艺术与当代公共空间的《公共》杂志终于出版发行了,何颖雅 和Sean Smith在这期杂志上发布了一篇讨论我们2008奥运会期间的公共介入的文章。

>> 最近在家作坊听到了有人说:“我爱你家?那是个错误!” 您自己过来跟我们不专业但是很认真的房屋中介谈一下确认吧!《我爱你家》现在还在继续展出中。

>> HomeShop’s DIY distribution scheme is well underway, with copies of wear journal traveling via friendly couriers from Beijing to Shanghai (thank you, Ed!), Rotterdam (thank you, Michael Y!), Berlin (thank you again, Michael Y!), New York (thank you, Qingqing and Josh and Jocko!), Toronto (thank you Barbara & Stephanie!) and Geneva (thank you, Bea!). Pictured above is our very own Beatrice Ferrari trekking with the HomeShop in-and-out-of-house bag, filled with you-know-what. Any of you all travelling anytime soon? Want an in-and-out-of-house bag? We need your muscular arms and support. Please contact us to participate!

>> CPU:PRO‘s Edward Sanderson recently came by and had a short discussion with some of us as part of his ongoing research into “alternative” art spaces in China. See the transcript of our talk here.

>> After much delay, the latest issue of Public Journal has been published, devoted to the screen in art and contemporary public space. Elaine W. Ho and Sean Smith contribute with an article discussing our interventions during the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

And recently overheard at HomeShop: “我爱你家?那是个错误! I Love Your Home? Now that’s wrong!” Come speak with our lovely agents, 《我爱你家 I Love Your Home》now still on view.

HEY HEI… Wear journal number two is finally out! It took us a while, but we’re very happy to present to you 80 heavy duty pages featuring pessoptimist contemplations on cultural exchange and everyday life in Beijing. Weighing in at a hefty 0.9 kilos and measuring 185 x 250 x 28 mm, WEAR is our beautiful, impractical baby with places to go.

But baby has to maintain her small carbon footprint, wants to keep things slim and trim, so HomeShop is wondering if we can work out a DIY distribution with you all, dear readers? Here’s how it could go:

Anyone traveling to/from Beijing in the near future, with space to spare in their luggage allowance, can volunteer to be a distribution carrier. This means that you carry 3+ copies of WEAR to your destination and agree to bring them to a pre-arranged drop off point with one of our partners abroad (individuals and/or bookshops). Your services will entitle you to a free copy of the journal, along with other goodies that increase in indebtedness depending upon the number of copies you can carry. These goodies will include any of the services that our skills will allow, or name your heart’s desire and we’ll play a nice bargaining game.

Distribution exchange offers (examples, not limited to those below):
⁃    cotton bag made with recycled fabrics, designed by Fotini Lazaridou-Hatzigoga [4 books]
⁃    ball-shaped dinner prepared by members of Homeshop crew [4+ books]
⁃    real estate tour of Beijing, (part of the upcoming installation project at HomeShop) [4+ books]
⁃    Chinese or English lessons [5+ books]
⁃    custom website design [10+ books]

Our current stockists are located in Berlin, London, Amsterdam, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Osaka, Geneva, New York and Los Angeles. If you are headed to any one of these places, or you know a nice indie shop in another city that would be interested to carry WEAR, please let us know! We’ll make all the arrangements so you won’t have to take care of any of the bureaucracy, just a simple point A to point B. More rub? Please support, get in touch.

e-mail: lianxi [at] homeshop [dot] org [dot] cn or jiazuofang [at] sina [dot] com
phone: +86 137 1855 6089

哦对了,什么是《穿》杂 志?
Oh, and what is WEAR journal?

WEAR is the independently published journal of HomeShop, an artists’ initiative located in one of the hutong alleyways in the centre of Beijing. An annual project, WEAR combines an artist book, theoretical reader and social research in printed form. The journal documents the public activities, discussions and interventions organised at HomeShop, also serving as a broader platform from which to gather contributions from artists, writers and the folks in the neighbourhood for a local dialogue and everyday reflection upon the contradictions and dynamism of a fast-changing China.

《穿》是家作坊独立发行的杂志,由一位住在 北京中心区胡同里的艺术 家创始。作为一个年度项目,《穿》将艺术书籍,理论阅读和社会研究以印刷品的方式呈现出来。杂志记录了由家作坊发起的一系列公共活动、讨论与干预,同时为 艺术家,作家和邻居百姓提供了一个平台,从而营造出一个本土化的语境,对一个充满冲突与活力的高速发展的中国做出即时反应。

关键词 keywords:

北京 beijing、公共艺术 art in public space、批判理论 critical theory、团体 community、异艺术实践 alternative arts practice、日常生活 everyday life

第二期参加者 number 2 contributions by:

何京蕴 Anouchka van DRIEL (NL), Michael EDDY (CA/USA), 方丹敏 Barbara FANG, 飞雅 Beatrice Ferrari (CH), 高蓓 GAO Bei (CN), 何颖雅 Elaine W. HO (HK/USA), INSTANT HUTONG (IT), Fotini LAZARIDOU-HATZIGOGA (GR), 梁硕 LIANG Shuo (CN), 林美雅 Meiya LIN (CN), 卢迎华 Carol Yinghua LU (CN), 麦巅 MAI Dian (CN), 曲一箴 QU Yizhen (CN), RAQS Media Collective (IN), 陶醉 Claude TAO (CN), 海纳 Reinaart VANHOE (BE), 夏吉安 XIA Jian (CN), 颜腾 YAN Teng (CN)

具体信息 publication information:

传统印刷,4色彩印,卡书对裱装订 | 尺寸:185 x 250 mm | 页数:80页 + 28页别册(单色传统印刷)| 语言:简体中文/英语 | 限量:1年1期,500本 | 创刊号 ISSN 2078-8691 | 出版社:家作坊
80 pp. (offset 4/4) + 28pp. insert (offset 1/1), board book binding, 185 x 250 mm | Simplified Chinese and English | annual edition of 500 | ISSN: 2078-8691 | published by WWW.OURWORK.IS

《穿》杂志第二期出版于2010年5月。Wear journal number two printed May 2010.

发行商 distribution:

家作坊 HomeShop (中国 CN), Motto (瑞士 CH), Textfield (美国 USA)

寄售点 stockists:

1a Space (香港 Hong Kong), 艺鵠 Art & Culture Outreach (香港 Hong Kong), Amilal (北京 Beijing), 八英艺术书店 Baying Art Bookstore  (武汉 Wuhan), Boekie Woekie (阿姆斯特丹 Amsterdam), Bookworm (北京 Beijing), Do you read me?! (柏林 Berlin), 渡口书店 Dukou Bookstore (上海 Shanghai), FakeSpace (北京 Beijing), Family (洛杉矶 Los Angeles), 黑蓝空间 (上海 Shanghai), 家作坊 HomeShop (北京 Beijing), iTohen (大阪 Osaka), 开闭开诗歌书店 (上海 Shanghai), Kubrick (北京 Beijing/香港 Hong Kong), 粒米 Lifeismore (上海 Shanghai), MCCM Creations the bookshop (香港 Hong Kong), Motto (柏林 Berlin), 国立国际美术馆 The National Museum of Art (大阪 Osaka), Ooga Booga (洛杉矶 Los Angeles), People’s Recreation Community (香港 Hong Kong), Printed Matter (纽约 New York), Pro QM (柏林 Berlin), South Willard (洛杉矶 Los Angeles), 勺子家 Spoon House (北京 Beijing), 三影堂摄影艺术中心 Three Shadows Photography Art Centre (北京 Beijing), 东八书店 Timezone 8 (北京 Beijing), 优伦斯当代艺术中心 Ullens Center for Contemporary Art (北京 Beijing), World Food Books (墨尔本 Melbourne), WORM.shop (鹿特丹 Rotterdam), 西排艺术书房 CPAI Art House (广州 Guangzhou)

收藏 archived at:

1a Space (香港 Hong Kong), 亚洲艺术文献库 Asia Art Archive (香港 Hong Kong), e-flux reading room at FORMERLY the Building (柏林 Berlin), “The Generational: Younger than Jesus” publication archive at The New Museum (纽约 New York), 单向街图书馆 One-Way Street Library (北京 Beijing), PROGRAM Initiative for Art + Architecture (柏林 Berlin), 维他命北京的这个店“立面”图书馆 Vitamin Creative Space TheShop’s facades library (北京 Beijing)