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Posts tagged ‘胡同 hutong’

突然,夏天…they said it suddenly became summer…

The next meeting of the Happy Friends Reading Club will take place in an uninhabited hutong near the South entrance to Nan Luoguxiang. The discussion is taken from a chapter from one of Yi-Fu Tuan‘s earliest publications, Space and place: the perspective of experience. Download the chapter “Attachment to Homeland” here [PDF, 9.5mb], and the book’s Epilogue there [PDF, 1mb].

We are meeting on the corner at the South entrance to Nan Luoguxiang on Sunday at 2:45pm and will proceed to the location from there. We will head over there, too, anyone is welcome to join, just be on time so that we can head to site. If there are any problems, please phone Mr. Eddy at 15001127304.

For further reading, try aaaaarg‘s Yi-fu Tuan essay collection.

最近我们的社区居民于他们的一些故事在城市画报 (2009年11月28日,第22期)被出版了~

our local residents and their stories are recently published in Nanfang Daily‘s City Pictorial (28 November 2009, no. 22):

何颖雅citypictorial北京的第二场雪后的家作坊。[photo by 杨弘迅 Winson Yang]

“大爷,老张,高哥与大胡子在大市内的小村庄” citypictorial09no22

我有个邻居非常“猛”。无论哪个季节,只要在我们的胡同里待着就能看见他在“遛弯儿”透气。哪怕他只是从家里到外面的街上走几步、哪怕他只出来晃几分钟,他那“固定”着装看上去总是既整洁又邋遢——这也许是他性格的缘故吧。他一眨一眨的眼睛经常传递着一种真诚的温暖和友好,但有时候,他的眼神又让人觉得他是个爱搞恶作剧的叛逆中学生。但我的邻居已经70多岁了。他曾经作为志愿军到朝鲜打过仗,还曾经参加过某个乐队在全国的巡演。然而,离休和一条坏腿意味着他从此只能在我们胡同的几百米范围内活动。我不清楚,这当中有没有什么难言的感伤情愫,但他的微笑总是让我肯定,活着就好。

有一个夏天的午后,我正在我家门前打扫,亲爱的老大爷又出来了。和平时一样,他靠在墙上,不经意地左右张望着外面忙碌的生活节奏。今天,他的一身行头看上去很旧很舒服了,打扮得像是要去海边一样——恐怕只有那些要去沙滩捡贝壳什么的人才会穿成那样。他穿着鼓鼓的、折边向上的及膝短裤,上身穿一件洗了很多次颜色掉得差不多的黄色T恤,有那么点柏林街头潮人穿衣服的意思。他光脚穿了双帆布船鞋,像穿拖鞋一样懒散地踢踏着。我觉得大爷在看我,于是从街对面冲他招招手,并用胡同里标准的问好方式跟他打了个招呼:“您吃了吗?” 他点点头,我们彼此笑笑,我便继续打扫门廊。

一两分钟之后,我听见身后有一种嘶嘶声,立马意识到是有人在喊我。我回过头,看见老大爷还在那,他正对着我,脸上带着一如既往的迷人笑容。他的双手很滑稽地抓住自己的裤腿,手指头缓慢地移动,看上去是在不停地把右边的裤腿往上拽——往上,再往上。他不停地左顾右盼确保街上没什么人,同时对着我继续他的表演。我有些害怕,而且纯粹惊呆了,只好转身继续扫我的地。

“神奇的中国!”我想。

来北京之前,我从来没想过会遇到这种事情。但北京也不特别——每个地方都有它的特“色”。现在我已经在这里住了4年,在鼓楼附近的小经厂胡同里也住了两年多。倒不是说,我对中国有某种特殊的期待;事实上,在这里,我的生活总是不得不对各种机遇开放,这种状态比我生活过的世界上任何地方都强烈。在这儿你没法计划太多,因为情况总有变化。

我的另外一个邻居也住这大杂院里,过去的8年多以来他一直静静地住在这个胡同里,仿佛因为已经完全融入到环境里而容易被遗忘。大家都爱管他叫“大胡子”,但我怀疑除此之外人们还知不知道这名字背后的更多故事。大部分时间他都一个人待着,不抽烟、不吃肉也不喝酒,但他能讲流利的中文和英语。这令他和那些普通的“老百姓”非常不同。有一次,我仔细观察高哥跟他的对话,高哥脸上露出怀疑、困惑甚至被冒犯的表情,他不能理解大胡子为什么连人生最大的快乐——抽烟——都不去体会。等高哥结束了他如何享受生活的长篇大论之后,俩人没啥可说的了。大胡子呢,也知道自己是异数,只能无奈地笑笑。但他和高哥都对自己的生活方式那么毅然决然,他们的固执在这个院子里共存仿佛正是中国人骨子里的某种“倔”的表现。与此同时,这些有趣的碰撞恰恰反映了北京胡同生活的城乡特质,其背后是北京所特有的“并置”现象。北京大杂院和小社区里的这些群体,就像是缓缓流向城市现代结构的一条条动脉:大街通往环路,再岔开为通向24小时便利店和大型购物商场的条条辅路。也许这跟世界上任何其他城市的现代化没什么两样,但是在北京,这些动脉和关节相互交错作用、彼此渗透,以一种紧迫的语调要求我们对集体全球化所带来的同质性化发出疑问。

哪怕是三里屯Village(名字很讽刺,居然叫“村庄”)这样的地方,它也不仅仅是全球化商品机器孕育的又一个堆砌名牌的闪亮盒子。我喜欢那里,不是因为能在那儿买到来自世界各地的东西,因为那总有农民工在晃悠,他们被地上的音乐喷泉吸引,同时为大城市的浮光异彩感到惊讶。他们的出现对这个城市的发展是那么的重要,而且是中国城市发展中最独特的一面。也许我这么说会激怒某些北京人,但这些“外地人”身上的一些特质跟社会光谱上的一部分本地人是相似的——而他们共同代表了今天中国的各个社会阶层。农民工们也许都住在建筑工地边上的临时大棚,而老北京人则几十年地住在他那25平米的平房里,但这两类人都代表了这个城市发展中缓慢而稳定的一面,这一面不应该被人忽略。住在临时板房里的农民工,和住在他们装修工地隔壁的平房里的老北京,一个来自城市的外部,一个来自城市的过去,却同时在这个空间和时间的交错点里,一起诉说着关于北京的故事。跟成天在鼓楼晃荡的小资青年们比起来,他们的生活方式也许过时了,但正如街坊老张跟我说的,“我在这胡同里住了30多年了。30年后,我还要在这儿住。等周围全变成高楼大厦的时候,我们也还在这这样住。” 老大爷的故事并不陌生——我相信这么多年来他已经吓唬过不少女生了,但他都70岁了,却还那么有精气神。

光鲜与肮脏、传统与现代以及外地与本地混生的同时存在,让这个城市充满生机与活力。它们还为我探索的问题带来了源源不断的创作灵感。我试图去发现,日常生活中的这些一点一滴如何聚集成复杂的人际关系网络,又如何构成当代生活的条条框框?我们一天能纪录的不仅仅是一种变动的档案、也是创作艺术的材料。因此,大部分我们做的所谓“艺术”其实都是按照特定的活动来的,是瞬息性的,同时也是我们安排时间和与人发生联系的一种表达方式。  实际上,我从来没见过比这更好玩的行为艺术:胡同居民们会每天“孜孜不倦”地把石头、砖块搬到路中间以试图阻挡来来往往的车辆。大爷大妈们常常冲过往的汽车喊道,“有病啊你?妈的在胡同里开那么快!!神经病!”这些行为哪怕不足为道,但反映了作为个体的他们,如何努力地参与、管理着这块他们周围的小地方,并对其负责。虽然这些小胡同,仅仅就像嵌在北京大都市里面的村庄,但这些“村庄”和大都市间的微妙联系,组成了中国生活真实一面。只有理解这种联系,我们才能真正理解中国是如何跟世界发生联系的。

像老张这些人表示自愿留守的想法,我不确定是不是真能持续30年。胡同中的老北京人和外地人似乎都向往着住楼房,最好还有中央供暖。80后和90后们则有着他们自己的打算。的确,过去的几十年以来,社会经济条件改变了一切,包括我们;然而,分享胡同居民们的这些琐碎小事情的时候,我们总能看到更多的可能性。对我而言,老大爷那神奇的“打招呼方式”或者一句简单的“吃了吗?”、“回来了?”,都比“你好”来得有创意,而这些细节不仅来自于习惯,还包括自发性和彼此对对方的尊重与感情。关注这些东西给了我们视觉、思维上的新体验——并且,未来,我们还可以再分享它们。

不是么?那些很琐碎的事情也能激发我们去思考,我们的日常生活还能包括什么。

宋师父citypictorial修车师傅宋贤根穿着蓝色工服干活 [photo by 杨弘迅 Winson Yang]

welcomebricks_6 welcomebricks_7 welcomebricks_8
welcomebricks_9 welcomebricks_10 welcomebricks_4 welcomebricks_3 welcomebricks_5 welcomebricks_11

welcomebricks_together

[all photos above by 高灵 GAO ling] more about the welcoming home of 1,500 bricks can be found at instant hutong. Beer and curious passersby make for a less than “silent insertion into the hutongs”, but more than one week later our mini-veranda is still standing, waiting to be taken away or re-used, maybe a new fort for the kids or just another kind of looking in and out…

21 june 2009.

On one hand, she says “cultural” outside of the ‘China vs. the World’ binaries that are so well-preserved in these parts, but on another she’s hand, let’s focus upon the “exchange” part of that phrasing rather than the “cultural”.

Okay, so naïvely, let’s broaden our minor understandings of culture:

From the Department of Social Relations, (why people act as they do)… 1. the “behavioral system” of biological needs… 2. the “personality system” of an individual’s characteristics affecting their functioning in the social world… 3. the “social system” of patterns of units of social interaction, especially social status and role… 4. the “cultural system” of norms and values that regulate social action symbolically.

If we can focus upon such exchanges with less quantitative referent to their final outcomese.g., commodity, your value for the money, the art productwe try to focus instead upon the cycles, flows and transmissions thereof, observation and documentation as an active process and deconstruction. I don’t know how much it is possible to tear down what we want to see. I don’t know how much it is possible to open oneself to the context, how that refers to the organisational motions toward content. What content can be put forth without specific agendas, can means without ends really be a geopolitical question (the living organisation of the city), or is it just too banal (the routine), too asocial (acommunicative)? what about adding another word to the question of context as content? “Continuity.” The minor displacements over time in Reich-ian fashion, repetition conjoined with all our failures in memory as an open-ended form of exchange. Growing up.

carwash1 carwash2 carwash3

carwash4 carwash5 carwash6

carwash7 carwash8 carwash9

carwash10 carwash11 carwash12

(small note for sportsbabel: wondering if my hesitation about ‘the gift’ has to do with that isolated ending, if “gift-ing” as a theoretical practice renders something different?)

homeshopzhongwufan

Over a meal with QU and Xiao, Qu asks about this paper we are writing. I try to say “micropolitics” in Chinese. He asks, “How can there be politics in the hutong? There is no politics (政治 zhengzhi, in Chinese) between the people in this yard. Politics is something from above; it’s government.” So we try to find a Chinese equivalent of our English sense of the word ‘politics’. We come to ‘relations’, ‘neighbourhood interconnections’, something along these lines… In thinking about it, he recalls for us the story of two other neighbours getting into a huge dispute last year, whereby one neighbour, a 70 year-old woman, tried to build a small coal shed in front of her home, thus making the ‘public’ corridor narrower — a nuisance to the other household who would have to pass it everyday. When the woman went ahead and had workers build the shed for her, the husband of the other family took a hammer and smashed it down. She had the workers build it up again. As the workers carried out their job, the husband began a brawl with them, and the police and chengguan were finally called in to intervene. Yes, a micropolitics of interpersonal relations. A politics inevitably linked to power and space. One becomes the other. Does this serve as a screen for something? A filter for something larger or smaller? I worry about applicability, have fallen into the postmodern traps. And noticed yesterday that you have been identified as a postmodern philosopher… so tell me, under fog of screen and language, how can anything be translated anymore?

it seems ridiculous to play the 关系 game sometimes, in the sense of it’s sometimes cunning regard for strategy and alterior motivations, but on the other hand, it also seems awkward toa 关系 with someone whom you have no specific thing to ask of, without an alterior motive and only the hint that you may have certain interests in common. is it just me?

anyhow, bea, just someone i took note of… came online across a U. of Pennsylvania department of Geography doctoral student named Melissa Rock. She posted a paper that looks right up our hutong (嘿嘿 bad pun) at a conference last year, here is the abstract:

Commodification and Gentrification: Hutongs of “Old Beijing”

According to the Beijing Urban Master Plan (2005-2020), the preparatory construction for the 2008 Summer Olympic Games marks only the first wave of urban redevelopment, transforming China’s capital in to a “world-class city”. The promise and process of this transformation calls for significant de- and re-construction of Beijing’s physical landscape as well as its socio-economic, historic, and cultural configurations. China’s progressive transition towards a market economy, in conjunction with Beijing’s expedited city restructuring to host the Olympics, has triggered city-center land valuation and housing speculation. As a result, thousands of Beijing hutongs have been demolished in favor of high-rise commercial and residential buildings; former neighborhoods become spatially fragmented and former residents are displaced. The demographic splintering of these hutongs marks a simultaneous disruption to socio-spatial practice, culture, community, and identity. However, in the rush to modernize, Beijing has not overlooked the cultural and historic value of the Old City. The Beijing city government has designated at least twenty-five hutong districts as cultural heritage conservation sites. Measures regarding hutong conservation include stipulations on residential density and architectural style. Nonetheless, conflict and contradictions abound as the commodification of hutongs precipitates the gentrification of Beijing’s city-center, prompting the question: do history, culture, and identity reside in place-specific architecture or in the socio-spatial practices of the residents who inhabit and traverse it? Through analysis of Beijing’s urban redevelopment and image-making process, this paper examines how place meanings are constructed through the dynamics of representational discourses, spatial configurations, as well as socio-economic and cultural institutions.

The question of place versus practice is one familiar to you, i think, as it came up a lot in your proposal for Sichuan, and this element of practice—-the doing of daily life—-is something highly important to HomeShop. Going back to the question of context, it’s not merely a question of time and place, but situation specificity, whereby culture and identity seem to be largely determined, by “the matter at hand” and giving oneself—-when there is no real sense of security (in the State)—-to matters as they are. Perhaps a lot of Buddhist values are inscripted here, but non-action (on one hand) and utter passivity (on another) is in such a way, perhaps a very active kind of being.

家作坊, 2008年8月10日,14:43。刘杨和她朋友骑自行车过来玩一会和喝酸梅汤,阿姨的小狗狗过来尿在他们车上。现在是谁的自行车呢?

HomeShop, 10 August 2008, 14:43. Liu Yang and her friend visit HomeShop after lunch to catch up and share some plum juice. Auntie’s dog comes by for a visit and pees on their bicycles. Now who’s bike is it?

9 august 2008: less than about two hours after finishing recipe for plum juice with subtle intentions for youthful, nostalgic enterprise, it is discovered that there is unbeatable competition in the form of a mobile civil servant who delivers free plum juice to the neighbourhood watch taitais everyday…

2008年8月9日: 熬好酸梅汤没到两个小时之后,发现每天叔叔会送免费酸梅汤给居民喝。做生意的天真思想当时挫败。。。

beijing, CN weather for 8 august 2008: cloudy and overcast, high 34° C – low 26° C. [照片 photo by 任杰 Ren Jie]
unexpectedly, they gather inside as well, cliques form in enclosed spaces, are private spaces, a flipping of the image. every so often someone passes underneath the screen: let’s get some fresh air, take a picture, or another beer. [左照片 left photo by 何新城 Neville Mars, 右照片 right photo by 逗号 Comma]
the twins stay up late with mama and papa. they’ve brought their own newspapers to sit on, and the 居民, hesitant and more wary than the crowd gathered centre front, remain leaning on bicycle, a curious periphery. [照片 photo by 逗号 Comma]
one makes a suggestion to move the drinks closer to the crowd. they are shy to come up to the shop/screen and help themselves. it is difficult to keep the beers cold at this time of year—-a humid Beijing summer night—-but time passes, each country makes its entrance and we sweat, enthralled. [照片 photo by 任杰 Ren Jie]
呼,胡。 Camera movements are orchestrated in an almost-precision choreography, and we all know when it is our time to come on. Or we look for that flickering moment when a head turns to realise which camera has us. Big screen watching, the view finder can be deceiving. …Konstantinos Glücksburg?[照片 photo by 任杰 Ren Jie]
she calls him 老刘 Old Liu, the literary fool who always speaks the truth. she’r teng: he thinks i either never come out or go out too much; we’ve both lived on this street for about one year now, and how come i never see you?[照片 photos by 逗号 Comma]
he wants to rouse the otherwise captivated still… they cheer for him, and the chinese-toronto crew in the back, too. [照片 photo by 任杰 Ren Jie]
we want to see china, they want to see china, 大家都为西红柿炒鸡蛋站起来喊叫。big brother Zheng is always cool: “Nothing to shout about, we can just sit back and relax.” [照片 photo by 任杰 Ren Jie]
17 days and counting: HomeShop is watching… 17天以下:家作坊在看… Many thanks to sportsbabel for working together, carrying, and making connections from between spaces by the shopfront tree…[照片 photo by 逗号 Comma]