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Happy Friends Reading Club will be meeting on Saturday, the 31st of July at the shop in Caochangdi with special guests Donkey Institute of Contemporary Art. A description is below.

If you would like to receive links to the texts or for more information, please email: eddy at vitamincreativespace dot com.

For directions to the current location of the shop see here.

A set of donkey essays from the Donkey Institute of Contemporary Art to Happy Friends Reading Club, with short texts by Catherine Ingraham, Eyal Weizman and Richard MacGregor compiled by DICA Co-Founder Michael Yuen.

Says Yuen: “By choosing short texts about the Communist Party, one about donkeys in architecture and one about the Israel-Palestine conflict, the point is not to be obtuse nor to be topically provocative. Instead, I see in these texts detailed analyses, at times conceptual traps, ways forward and a devastating look at various ideological agendas played out in the city. And, these themes play out in Paris, the West Bank and Shanghai.”

Two essays were omitted from this collection. They are Borges’ “The Art of Verbal Abuse” and Pier Vittorio Aureli’s “The Project of Autonomy”. Including these would have made the amount of reading onerous. But, also briefly mentioning them here can give us some insight. Aureli’s essay on architecture begins with its main thesis from the Greek-French rightist philosopher Cornelius Castoriadis: the agenda of the French intellectual left of dismantling hierarchies has become an ideology of conforming. Aureli and Castoriadis attack a philosophy that they see as no longer a radical–it is itself another, having become another hierarchy. As for Borges’s essay, here we find ways of acting or maybe ways of speaking: humour, lightness, imagination and intelligence. These are parts of Borges’ writing some continental philosophers forgot.

As a way of closing this short introduction, a few words about ‘cities’. It is clear to me, our old ways of viewing cities are dying. Around us we continually see people reconfirming recognizable ideas. This reconfirming leads us nowhere. And, as we look for new visions for cities, we must avoid merely proposing programs. Perhaps, there is value in remembering this as you read the programs detailed in the following essays and chapter excerpts.”

For more information about the Donkey Institute of Contemporary Art, see: http://www.donkeyinstitute.net/

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.

Park (in which the sounds we make in public are both expressions of ideology and good for the body)

Get the Flash Player to see the wordTube Media Player.


Calling (in which the sound of advertisement forms a fabric that envelops us)

Get the Flash Player to see the wordTube Media Player.


Dongfanghong 1 (in which the sound of the bell at the Beijing Railway Station reveals a story of our relation to the voice of authority)

Get the Flash Player to see the wordTube Media Player.


Dongfanghong 2 (in which the voice of authority is found to be composed of echoes)

Get the Flash Player to see the wordTube Media Player.


Music (in which we are introduced to the workers who live on their downtown work site)

Get the Flash Player to see the wordTube Media Player.


The audio drama “Sound Research of China” (Michael EDDY, KANG He, 李增辉 LI Zenghui) is composed of episodes from ongoing research into the makeup of the sound environment of Beijing. The process consisted of many outings as a group into the streets of Beijing and following and questioning the sounds that we identified as “characteristic” of life in China, and of the relation of sound to life there. Working as a unit of three “specialists,” each of our backgrounds informing our manner of recording, analyzing and editing the source materials, we pursued the sounds in various ways to see how they might compose their own narrative and drama.

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“Sound Research of China” was a component of Vitamin Creative Space‘s participation and resulting in the installation in the “Structural Integrity” project in Melbourne’s Meat Market for the Next Wave festival. For further documentation, please check here.

参 与 倡 议

从二零零八年八月八日晚八点开始至八月二十四日的闭幕式为止,一系列以奥运与北京当地居民社区的交汇为契机的活动将在位于北京市中心小经厂胡同的一 个不起眼的小地方展开[1]。这一亩三分地既是店面,又是本次活动举办人生活,起居的地方。它象征着公共空间与私人空间,商品交易与自由兑换的重叠. 在奥运期间的这些活动旨在探讨,记录,与创造我们在奥运宏观规划下作为个体的可能性,缩短时间表与平常老百姓间的距离,或者更确切地说,在距离中安身立 命。我们在此诚挚地期待你的参与,观摩,与嬉戏.

如有问题,建议,好主意请e-mail ho [at] iwishicoulddescribeittoyoubetter [点] org 或致电至137.1855.6089. 虽然我们现在还没有正式的活动经费,如果你所建议的活动需要某种设备或有其他需要,请与我们联系,我们将尽可能地向你提供帮助. 你可以在任何时候把你的想法告诉我们,包括奥运期间。而且你并不需要训练有素。

[下 载 中 文 方 案 , 下 载 英 文 方 案]

活动内容:

。奥运现场转播(街边投影)
。街头即兴录像
。街边日志[2]与现场赛事解说
。零食,饮料出售
。北京批判理论阅读小组学术论坛
。体育词汇解析
参与者:

。北京批判理论阅读小组
蔡凯 - 艺术家,设计师
崔凯旋 - 老师
。段宝林 Pauline Doutreluingne - 策展人, DJ
。分司厅小学暑期班小朋友
。Beatrice Ferrari - 地理学,空间规划研究; 洛桑联邦理工学院
。高大哥 - 隔壁邻居,保安
何颖雅 - 艺术家,设计师
粱越 - 艺术家
。欧阳潇 - 艺术工作者,哲学学者
。任波 - 导演,艺术家
Sean Smith - 批判理论家,布拉克大学,博士生在读,欧洲研究生院
。王大爷 - 对门儿邻居,退休音乐家
。王大姐 - 房东,地铁售票员
。郑大哥 - 隔壁邻居,邮递

活动随时更新及日程安排请登陆这个播客。在奥运会期间家作坊每天都会对外开放。家作坊活动由何颖雅和欧阳潇发起。并希望是一系列以当地居民社区为基础而形成的艺术创作。人际网络与家的探索的开始。在本次活动中所搜集的文章,想法及讨论都将收录于奥运结束之后出版的小册子上。

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[1] 家作坊受到很多来自于Cybermohalla的启发,他们的网址:
http://www.sarai.net/practices/cybermohalla/minor-practices

[2] 《街道是平庸重复的空间,是与物质世界的相遇,是人与人,事与事之间的偶然集结。街道也由此进入我们的谈话。在街头一站,静静地观察街道的一举一动可以让其重新在谈话与思考中出现,并会被赋予新的思想深度. 在2004年,Cybermohalla利用街头日志这个形式重新审视了一切在我们生活周围看似熟悉与平凡的事物,从而试图找到这些事物中的断层与潜在走向。》(Cybermohalla)

localities! desktop courtesy of 高灵, www.perpq.com (click image to see full size view)

A recent article in the Telegraph makes light of the fact that Olympics is very far from home indeed: it seems the initial excitement about London 2010 is already raising inland eyebrows. Recent questionably high numbers of taxpayer-funded junkets have been made by political committee members in the name of investigating and learning from former Olympic host cities. In light of this globe-trotting, it may be obvious to note the displaced understandings here of what it means for the Olympics to ‘bring the world together’. Togetherness in this case in not local, and what we think of as global seems to come together in these instances under the arenas of national competition, representation and one-upmanship. Not to dismiss the value brought to the athletes via their experiences (and those of their entourages, the officials and the press), the localities produced by the Games seem far removed from the reality of its host city, and it is rather the case that the local must be sold to its own people in terms of consumables, media and economic boosts via jobs, tourism and other short term et ceteras. In the cases of British research junkets and the year-long torch relay for the Beijing 2008 Olympics, it looks a lot more like post-colonialism in the name of cosmopolitanism (and in the above image, the ‘logo’ of the Queen!). The Empire of Sportsmanship is brought back to the local (like the glorious cat’s dead prey dropped inside the kitchen) whether we like it or not, beginning from the moment that the host city ‘winner’ is announced to however long a particular Olympics morning-after period may last. What is more interesting, then, is to examine how the cosmopolitanism of the Olympics does filter back to local practices, not in terms of illusory togetherness but, hopefully, by means of more sustainable exchanges and sharing in the sense of Jean-Luc Nancy’s inoperative community. Here we can examine the communities that are created not as fixed entities or operations (e.g., Olympics-type cosmopolitanism), but rather look toward dynamics affecting the local long after the ceremonies have closed and ‘cosmopolitan’ has left.

I still remember being quite shocked and moved by the level of excitement and emotion in the faces of all the flag-waving Chinese celebrating in Tiananmen square upon the announcement of Beijing’s bid for the 2008 Olympics. Watching on television from Hong Kong as those interviewed were moved even to tears, even my grandmother took interest and said, “Now at least China won’t bother Taiwan too much for a while longer.”

Seven years later, a friend sits with me at a café on Guloudong Dajie telling me how a crowd gathered one night outside a small shop near his home because the owner refused to move out by the marked date for the shop’s demolition. Its worn facade has in 2008 unfortunately become an unsightly too close to the Forbidden City—-thereby highly visible to the incoming flux of visitors who will likely pass by on their way to visit the palaces. The crowd of those gathered to see a potential forced removal were restless, and complaints over the Olympics roared loadly, with unmentionables like six-four even dared to be recalled in public space. On the other hand, not so far from that hutong my own neighbour has hung a miniature Chinese flag from his car antenna, and when asked by a friend why he has all of a sudden initiated this little act of patriotism, he replies matter-of-factly, “The Olympics will be here soon. Who doesn’t love the country?” (“奥运快到了,谁都不爱国?”)

All of these are ongoing processes within this flux of global-local, and just some of the many layers that we have to examine in order to understand a burgeoning Chinese economy, culture and society and how it finds itself in relation to a larger view. Of course, this is an oversimplification, but we can only begin to understand community when we examine in context its processes and the dynamics underscoring its identity. While the stadium may be left empty after the party (as has been the case with Athens after 2004), there has been in Beijing, for example, amazing amounts of newly-built infrastructure of which the city has long been in need. And what about the loosening up of the press, the acculturation of Beijingers to new tenets of civil society like queueing in line and reducing the usage of plastic bags? Will these things last as long as the fad for “I HEART China” t-shirts? I keep thinking of the over 2 billion trees that have been planted all over Beijing (Xinhua). Let’s hope.

c a l l . f o r . p a r t i c i p a t i o n

From the 8th of August, 2008 at 8:00 p.m. to the end of the closing ceremonies on the 24th of August, a small space located at Xiaojingchang Hutong in the centre of Beijing will be open to host and organise a series of minor practices[1] that will embark from the crossing points of the local community and the world spectacle of the 2008 Olympic Games. As a commercial storefront space that also hosts its proprietors for living, sleeping and eating, this space represents a metaphorical bringing together of the public and the private, a commercial trade with the common good or open exchange. During the period of the Olympic Games, a number of activities will take place to investigate, document and generate possibilities for our relationships as individuals to the 2008 Olympic plan, the timetable and its juxtapositions with local urban micro-society. This is an open call inviting your agency as participant, observer and player. [download full english project proposal as PDF here, 下载中文方案]

Please address inquiries, ideas and informal proposals for an activity you’d like to initiate by e-mail to: ho [at] iwishicoulddescribeittoyoubetter [dot] org, by telephone at +86 137.1855.6089. While there is no official budget available for any of these events and activities, if certain equipment and/or resources are required, please contact and we will do our best to make suitable arrangements. There is no deadline, and your ideas are welcome for the duration of the Games. Training is not required. 有时间过来玩!(If you have time, come over and play!)

Among the Events planned/possible…
. evening public viewing of Olympic Games via storefront LED projection
. field recordings of the neighbourhood (audio/video)
. public wii games via storefront LED projection
. street-logs[2] and hutong-side live sports announcing
. presentations and/or talks on related work
. storefront sale of refreshments and other goods
. Beijing Critical Reading Group session
. language lessons for sports and netspeak
. street party for Olympic losers

Participants, Potential players…
. Beijing Critical Reading Group participants
. Pauline Doutreluingne – curator, DJ
. summer school students of Fensiting Primary School, two doors down
. Beatrice Ferrari – geography and spatial planning; Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale Lausanne
. big brother Gao – next door neighbour, security guard
. 何颖雅 Elaine Hoart and design
. 蔡凯 Cai Kaiart and design
. 崔凯旋 Cassidy Cuiprofessor
. Liang Yueart and performance
. Ren Bo – filmmaker
. Ouyang Xiao – art and critical theory
. Sean Smithcritical sports theory, Brock University, phD. candidate European Graduate School
. Grandpa Wang – neighbour from the building across the street, retired musician, active ladies man
. big sister Wang and big brother Yue – the landlords, subway ticket vendor
. big brother Zheng – next door neighbour, postal office worker

HomeShop will be open daily by appointment throughout the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing. A running schedule of all events will be continuously updated on this blog. The HomeShop Games 2008 project is an initiative of 何颖雅 Elaine W. Ho and 欧阳潇 Xiao Ouyang, hopefully the first in a series of community-based investigations of art practices, Beijing, networked spaces and the home. Documentation, essays and other contributions from this series will be compiled for a publication to be produced after the Games. In the case of inclement weather, we can huddle together.

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[1] See http://www.sarai.net/practices/cybermohalla/minor-practices. A number of the ideas for the HomeShop games project are humbly attributed to the work Cybermohalla.

[2] “Streets are spaces of banal repetitions, encounter with world of things, gathering of people and occasional events. This is also how streets enter our conversations. To stand still in a street or to observe a street over a certain duration of time could make the street re-appear into conversations and thought with renewed vividness and perplexity. Street-logs were evolved by practitioners in 2004 to engage with the familiar and the banal, to find ways of re-thinking and re-imagining its disruptions, surprises and flows” (Cybermohalla).