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Posts tagged ‘城市 urban’

A traditional courtyard house.

A church, for training purposes.

A real post office, on the left.

A fake coffee shop next to a real tea shop.

 A fake Carrefour

A real supermarket

 A fake bank.

 An alleyway next to a real print shop.

A consulate for “Country A.” 

A fake government building.

A real police station.


On the edge of town.

My first attempt to enter the Chinese People’s Public Security University at 7 o’clock on a Thursday morning met with abrupt rejection. “This university is not like others,” the sympathetic but inflexible guard smiled. The following Tuesday I returned and through the magic words of a few contacts, fairly waltzed into the vast and well-kept campus, abuzz with the meticulous workings of early evening. We walked along streets with names like “Loyalty Avenue” and “Diligence Avenue” in a self-contained parallel universe populated by young cops and athletes in various groupings and formations breaking apart, flowing through a corner together, founding blue constellations across the immense, dusking Culture Plaza. No trash cans in this world: trash cans mean trash. No holding hands in this world. 

After a review of evening roll call followed by substantial dinner in the cafeteria, we proceeded to a large installation near the heart of the campus, formed of a massive free wall surrounding a model of what appeared to be a European style town center. The traffic lights stood blind and waiting, and through a window above a real dry cleaners came the keening quasi-tunes of karaoke. 

The town was neither completely real nor completely fake. Perhaps this diversifying was to make it more interesting, to create a sense that this dead space was somehow half alive, like a permeable, banal amusement park. But as a training ground for how to tackle situations like traffic control and bank robberies, one could also imagine this mixture of shops for daily necessities and the neighboring empty simulations as furnishing the leitmotif of preparedness for social breakdown even on one’s habitual off-hour trips to commissary.

Passing again outside the wall, we cut across the gigantic sports fields to a low building of studio rooms where extracurricular clubs convened. One of our guides, whose major is in processing foreigners and who loves punk music, had offered to let us watch their brand practice. We were treated to a suite of Chinese and American standards including “Every Breath You Take” by the Police, “Desperado” by the Eagles and “Holiday” by Green Day. 

No irony in this world. Just the shining, armed citizens with their perfect eyesight (mandated to make it through the gate), honing their creative, sexual energies for the republic.


“Say, hey!

Hear the sound of the falling rain
Coming down like an Armageddon flame (Hey!)
The shame
The ones who died without a name

Hear the dogs howling out of key
To a hymn called “Faith and Misery” (Hey!)
And bleed, the company lost the war today

I beg to dream and differ from the hollow lies
This is the dawning of the rest of our lives
On holiday

Hear the drum pounding out of time
Another protester has crossed the line (Hey!)
To find, the money’s on the other side

Can I get another Amen? (Amen!)
There’s a flag wrapped around a score of men (Hey!)
A gag, a plastic bag on a monument

I beg to dream and differ from the hollow lies
This is the dawning of the rest of our lives
On holiday

(Say, hey!)

(Wait for it!)

“The representative from California has the floor”

Sieg Heil to the president Gasman
Bombs away is your punishment
Pulverize the Eiffel towers
Who criticize your government
Bang bang goes the broken glass and
Kill all the fags that don’t agree
Trials by fire, setting fire
Is not a way that’s meant for me
Just cause (hey, hey, hey), just cause, because we’re outlaws yeah!

I beg to dream and differ from the hollow lies
This is the dawning of the rest of our lives
I beg to dream and differ from the hollow lies
This is the dawning of the rest of our lives

This is our lives on holiday”

 (from the album “American Idiot” by Green Day, 2005) 

让先人给让先人给我们指点迷津 Let’s get some help from the Dead

日期 date:  2012年4月4日(清明),星期三下午二点 / Wed 4 April (Tomb sweeping day) 2012, 14:00

地点 location: 家作坊 HomeShop[地图 / map

用费 cost: 44

人 类的延续,就是生命一个个轮回交替,为生者死,为死者生。今年我们会设计一个人形种植园(一直到5月20日),这象征着人的身体与自然的物质转换与平衡。 中国传统的清明节祭扫,会用各种食物祭奠先人,因此我们还尝试恢复清明节中另一个重要的部分——寒食节,因此今年我们除了会焚烧一些特殊的纸钱,还欢迎大 家来这里跟我们一起吃冷食过节。

For human survival, we receive other’s life for maintain our own life. Today is the perfect day to appreciate their work on food production even after the loss of life. We will design the body sized garden (continued on 5月 20日) burning giant building and eating cold food to celebrate together with the dead.

organized by 植村絵美 Emi UEMURA, 方丹敏 Barbara FANG and Michael EDDY


日历餐厅介绍 About Calendar Restaurant:

日历餐厅是在种植季节期间每月开放一次的餐厅。它始于2010年7月至10月的一个艺术项目。自 2011年种植季节起,我们希望在日常生活和植物生长的时间表(这也是日历的来历)下探索这种实践。在日历餐厅,消费者变成厨师, 从我们的田园中采摘新鲜蔬菜, 并分享各自的经验。一起做好饭后, 大家围坐在一起,还会讨论一些更复杂的话题:健康、食品安全、社会、政治、天 气、中医、老北京烹饪、食物设计和储存-当然,这些看上去严肃的讨论并不会影响我们品尝美味。2011年我们的种植场地由小毛驴农场赞助,日历餐厅由家作坊支持、2012年我们的种植场地由 潤田農園赞助,日历餐厅由家作坊支持。
Calendar Restaurant is a restaurant that opens once every month during the course of the farming season. It was initiated within the context of an art project from July to October, 2010. When farming started in 2011, we simply wanted to explore this practice within the framework of daily life and timeline of vegetables’ growth (that is where the calendar originates). In this restaurant, customers become cooks, working with fresh vegetables from our garden and sharing stories of their experiences. Once food is ready we sit together at one big table to discuss complex food issues: health, food safety, social systems, politics, weather, Chinese medicine, old Beijing cooking, food design and preservation ― but not to the point of making the taste muddy! This year our farm plot is supported by Runtian Farm and the restaurant is supported by HomeShop. Calendar Restaurant is organized by 植村絵美  Emi UEMURA and 方丹敏 Barbara FANG

日历餐厅 时间表 春夏 2012 Spring Summer Calendar Restaurant Schedule

3月20日(春分)开始農耕 Start farming
4月4日 星期二(清明)让我们为先人做点什么 Let’s Get some help from the dead
5月6日 星期天 (立夏)日历餐厅开放日Calendar Restaurant Open
5月20日 星期天 (小満) 想得瓜就种瓜,想得豆就种豆  Planting seeds for your wishes
6月2日 星期六 (芒种)儿童乐园 Child land
6月23日星期六(夏至)传统中医食物  Chinese Medicinal Food
7月休 holiday
8月5日(立秋)星期天 日历餐厅研究计划 Calendar Restaurant Research Trip
8月24日(七夕)星期五 情人餐 Dinner for Love

王久良 WANG Jiuliang’s mapping of landfills that encircle Beijing.

location: “中国箱包之都 China Luggage & Bag Capital”
Baigou Industrial City, Baoding, Hebei Province
date: 5-6 January 2012

It is said that Beijingers’ vicinity to the imperial seat (both past and, ahem…present) means that they don’t know much about how to really do anything, as serving the government—or at least falling heavily shadowed in its midst—means that you do not really have to make your own living, nor can you cheat too far astray from the one that’s been allotted to you (think, in contrast, of those wild rebel producers in Guangdong [2]). The Beijinger’s belly is big, it’s got swagger like that and stands for a certain slow pace of life unlike the typical notion of an urban persona. So where we had previously held some romantic vision of an action-packed urban exploration, venturing out again this winter we realise that such adventure has less to do with sleek and agile black-clad intrigue than a questioning of what the making of urbanity really means here in Beijing, the capital city of not-knowing-how-to-do-much.

The second floor workspace of
红海棠皮具有限公司 Honghaitang Leather Goods Company, Ltd.

A visit to a friend of QU’s luggage and bag factory was compelled by curiosity and surprise, for such industrial production in Beijing is rare, but what we thought would be the outskirts of Beijing turned out to be Hebei province, surrounding Beijing on all sides like a seventh or eighth ring, traceable by desolate farmlands, landfills and, yes… production. 白沟镇 Baigou village, approximately three and a half hours from HomeShop by bus or subway and long-distance coach, once fell under the jurisdiction of 高碑店市 Gaobeidian city (not to be confused with the 高碑店 Gaobeidian of fake antique furniture fame in eastern Beijing), but for some unknown reason has in latter years been re-territorialised as part of the 保定市 Baoding municipality, a city historically well-known for being a site of minor victory over the Japanese during the occupation in the 30s. Baigou was in fact once called 白狗, but this unflattering name (meaning “white dog”) was later changed to 白沟, and from the trenches of this small village farmers were engaged as early as the 70s in 副业 sideline work in bag manufacturing as part of the communists’ organising of 生产队 production units across the country.

LIU Lei’s mother can still remember the time when her family grew vegetables on their land, but she says that by the time of the reform and opening up at the end of the decade many farms already sat fallow as the shift from farmer to manufacturer grew, like the design of fashionable bags, more and more intense. There is perhaps a mutual feeling of 没办法 for those farmers who leave their land to make better fortunes as businessmen and migrant workers (“如果没土地了,怎么办?开三轮,开小商店,你什么能力都没有只能打工咯,没办法 Without land, what are you supposed to do? Drive a motor-taxi, open a small shop, or if you don’t have any skills whatsoever you can only be a laborer, what other way is there?”), and those who are forcibly evicted by developers with petty compensation (“一千一亩就等于抢走的 1,000 yuan per mu is basically like being robbed”), but at the end of a long description of a violent protest incident in Baoding last summer, where around 1,000 farmers occupied a highway in protest of unfair compensation for their land (“你能怎么地?上访?你走不出保定,走不出河北,更到不了北京。 What are you gonna do? Make appeals to authorities? You won’t be able to get past Baoding [municipality], you won’t get to Hebei [provincial authoritiy], and don’t even think about Beijing.”), LIU Lei’s father cannot help but smile embarrassedly that their family’s luggage and bag factory has benefited from the state-directed urbanisation of Baigou. Family-run production units-cum-full-fledged businesses grew steadily in the 80s, and LIU Lei’s family joined mid-decade with her mother and father making bags themselves and other relatives in the family traveling as far as Sichuan to sell their ready-made stock. The conglomerated efforts of the families of Baigou (majority Han Chinese with a large population of 回族 Hui minority peoples) began to attract tradesmen to the village itself, and the LIU family no longer had to travel; their bags sold quickly from the aluminum rack stands they set up in the village market.

With support from continued urban development initiatives like the 白沟新城经济社会发展居 Baigou New City Socio-Economic Development Bureau and the 保定白沟箱包产业生产力促进中心 Baoding Baigou Luggage and Bag Industry Productive Force Promotion Center, Baigou has risen to become Hebei province’s only nationally supported and monitored economic zone, with factories like that of the LIU’s producing around 1,000+ bags daily. Supported by the labour of between 70 and 100 employees from neighboring provinces like Henan and Gansu, the 2-story factory the LIU family built on land they purchased from a developer for approximately 100,000 yuan/mu (1/6 of an acre) has now been renovated with an additional floor of worker dormitories, and the price of the land has jumped to 4 or 500,000 yuan/mu. Whilst the real estate bubble is finally finding its friction in the mega-cities of Beijing or Shanghai, it is clear to LIU Lei’s family that there is still a lot more room to grow in Baigou. Keen city-developer relationships keep the dust flying under the many cranes that hang over the landscape, and the influx of new residents and labourers from other areas pumps the village population from 100,000 to 4 or 500,000. 22 year-old LIU Lei’s web savvy and English abilities give the Honghaitang company a whole new sphere of possibility, and supported by the government’s sponsorship of half of their Alibaba membership fees, a single family in Baigou is able to place itself on an international map of production and consumption.

Honghaitang‘s showroom is located on the third floor of the second phase building of
白沟箱包交易城 Baigou Bags and Cases Trading Market

 Where geographers define urban construction as “the key mechanism of local state building” [3], LIU Lei’s father says simply, “发展的意思就是盖一个楼 Development here just means building a building“, and their factory is the most concrete evidence of it. But what we must consider here are the complex forces that push a “state-led urbanisation” into a very real dynamic with the local level, whether that be through the fist of 城管 chéngguăn bullying farmers from their land or local families joining together to purchase land instead of buying from 外地 wàidì developers. As such, territorial strategies occur both top-down and from the ground-up, “as much a tool of resistance as of dominance.” [4]

No conclusions yet… to be continued.

This is urban exploration number three, part of what will be a continuing series of minor drifts and journeys into the making of the city. If you are interested to join future outings or have suggestions for one, please send a note of interest to lianxi[at]homeshop[dot]org[dot]cn.

[1]The retroactive numbering instated here places the previous activities of a visit to Jackson Hole, Beijing and the rePLACE Beijing project respectively as the first two urban explorations.
[2]As considered based upon north-south cultural differences, Cantonese identity and 公民意识 civil consciousness discussed during a dialogue on Cantonese culture and media, October 2011.
Get the Flash Player to see the wordTube Media Player.

[3]Hsing, You-tien. “Territoriality and Space Production in China“. Cross-Currents, No. 1. December, 2011.
NOTE: All facts reported in this text are not verified and come strictly from narratives told by the LIU family during the Baigou urban exploration. For more academically reliable information regarding the transformation of the urban environment in China, we can recommend the first issue of Cross-Currents e-journal, or please explore on your own.

ずーんとみしらぬ大きなもの。植えたことさえ忘れていたとうもろこしをみたときここにいなかった30日分の太陽と雨と空気とかがすっかりかたちになったことに気づいた。とそんなことはおそだしで今つけたしたが。そのすぐそばには空心菜が一面を多い、おいしい実りをつけているはずの豆類は跡形もなくなっており、レタスが上に伸びてかっこう悪くなっており、シソがものすごく幅をきかしていてその影で凛としたたたずまいでオクラが3本。じゃがいもはまだ地中ですごしているようだし、トマトは大暴れの雨や風邪にひやかされながらも真っ赤な実をいくつもいくつもつけていた。雑草達はゆかいそうにきっちりとびっちりと意気投合したよう。ピーマンと辛いピーマンはみごとなもの。なすびは規格サイズくらいなものから巨人クラスのものまでさまざま。きゅうりはビールッパラの下膨れ何がどうなったらこんな形になるもんだか、きゅうりってすらっとしていぼいぼの予定だったんだけど。6月上旬にとれていたズッキーニも見当たらない。ダンミンとチンサン(畑の相棒)によるとこの夏は雨だらけ、幾度も雨。そういえば今日も寝ている間ものすごい音をたてていたかしら。そんな中でも7月の日历餐厅では新じゃがでニョッキ、バジルソース、菜園サラダ、オーブン野菜、スコーンとラズベリージャムフロムUK plus wine and teaで目もおなかもみたしながらもお天気予報お姉さんと農夫がする”天気と野菜を育てる話”に耳とこころをかたむけます。(google translate will offer no help for this article).


7月1日  雨

7月2日  中雨转小雨 收紫甘蓝,拔草,松土,两周前洒的白菜长了,不过很多叶子都烂了,因为种植太密,架不住一场雨一顿阳光,下涝上烤,自然扛不住;洒白菜籽,未浇水~回家的路上开始下雨。

7月5日  阴转阵雨

7月6日  雷阵雨转多云

7月7日  雷阵雨 趁凉去小毛驴农场,发现地里的玉米倒了一片,有好几棵都抽穗长苞了;emi的小西红柿被直接拍地上了,估计命不久长,紫甘蓝姑娘们雨淋日晒后脸现溃斑,芳华尽逝;劳作一天,深刻体会看天吃饭农民之苦。

7月11日 多云转雷阵雨

7月12日  雷阵雨转阵雨

7月13日  多云转雷阵雨 田间劳作

7月14日  阵雨转多云 入伏第一天   植村绘美同学从伦敦回京。

7月16日  多云转雷阵雨 有机农夫市集马甸集。11:00植村绘美同学在交流讲座环节跟大家分享了伦敦墓园种菜的有趣经历。

7月17日  阴转中雨 晚7:00,北苑路北,植村绘美与方丹敏讨论日历餐厅本月活动。讨论最多的是:多雨的北京,对有机生产者来说意味着什么?对有机销售者意味着什么?对有机消费者又意味着什么?

7月18日  中雨转阵雨

7月19日  阵雨

7月20日  雷阵雨转多云

7月21日  雷阵雨 下午四点,植村绘美与方丹敏在小毛驴农场,刚干了一个多小时活,开始打雷,又要下雨了。

7月22日   雷阵雨 凌晨的窗外,正在打雷下雨

7月23日  (预报)晴转雷阵雨

7月24日   (预报)中雨转阵雨 我们将在哪片有雨的云下收获蔬菜?又将在那哪有雨的云下吃饭?

七月日历餐厅活动主题,是从那湿漉漉的地里拔了新鲜的蔬菜(因为雨,有一些不太好看),让这些蔬菜传达给我们当月大自然的信息。我们其实很希望有气象达人来跟我们分享一下雨量多少与大气环境或自然环境变化的关系,让我们的眼界从小小的餐桌延展到更广阔些的地方去。我们也希望能邀请 一位在有机耕作中兼具种植与销售经验的人,给我们讲讲如何认识消费者心理的故事(这两位的活动免费,我们还会提供少量的市内交通费)。气象达人仍然在寻找 中,请大家积极艾特@哦,如果气象达人们实在都没有空,我们就自己边吃边聊吧。

我们的厨子除了植村绘美同学,本月流动厨子(moving chef)是@海花胖蜗牛厨房 的海花胖同学,她也是日历餐厅6月活动的参加者。以后我们每月都会邀请一位流动的厨子,当然,每一位前来参加活动的同学都有机会一起共做一道菜。


–  蔬菜沙拉, Tomato,Cucumber, Shiso(紫蘇)salad

–  意式(新鲜土豆)团子, Gnocchi (with fresh potato)

–  巴西沙司, Basil sauce

–  烤茄子,辣椒,  Roasted eggplant, green pepper

–  空心菜, Konxincai dish

–  腌紫苏(保鲜技巧), Salted Shiso(紫蘇) (preservation technique)

–  覆盆子司康(用于做此甜点的覆盆子酱来自圣安德鲁斯大教堂,关于此果酱的故事emi已在市集介绍,没听到的同学可以餐间随时问~)Scone with cream and Raspberry Jam from St. Andrews Church

– a glass of wine and tea   一杯酒 / 茶


活动时间:2011年7月31日 晚18:00-21:00

活动地点: 交道口北二条8号,家作坊
地图 MAP: http://maps.google.com/maps/ms?ie=UTF&msa=0&msid=217570249394613675179.000497a945f6f4b280f37

活动方式: 我们将邀请10位朋友,在日历餐厅以活动共享的方式,跟我们一起品尝我们种植的自然生长的有机蔬菜,交流, 互相学习, 我们可以一起做饭。请带毛巾和围裙



The CD was composed of American commercial rap and r&b sped up and seamlessly mixed into one-hour mp3’s. He used this pulsing and unrelenting rhythm to fuel his wild progress, despite the near opacity of the lyrics to his ears. Young and tidy, with glistening hair and a craggy cheek surface formed of the new sustenance, he was an image of youth, an animation of the performance of youth under pressures. We climbed in and with the door’s closure, an easygoing promise of timely delivery and an immediate u-turn in front of an oncoming bus set a tone for a sequence of negotiations and split-second decisions informed by flowing intuition. This pointed awareness did not count the law chiefly as its limit, working along its approximate guidelines, but hovering in a parallel state where speed and safety are blurry, immeasurable energies constituting pure duration. Looking at the license on the dashboard, one noted an older, pale, balding man gazing back; the spirit and attitude of driving had either rejuvenated an adult, or made an adult of a boy. The maneuvers, which included burst-passing on the narrow 2-lane causeways that elegantly cross-hatch the edges of East Lake, cutting corners early shadowing mini-vans, and swerving around piles of debris, not to mention hurtling past other speeding cars on the new elevated freeways, all made up a language of an urban space that sprang up and lay half-destroyed and half-in-progress. As such, it was not the code of a single person, though he is the atomic driver in an incalculable system of circulation and friction; but he can only be the atom in tension with the particles exploding around him. Even the pedestrian on the rubble margin senses the shifting values and instant momentum transformations, adjusting to this general spatial intelligence with minimal violence; the other drivers play variations on each other’s motions, together developing the chaotic vocabulary that oscillates between efficiency and entropy, creating such tropes as the cautioning head-lamp flicker and the selfish congesting lane-take. Just like the tireless and carnal mp3 soundtrack accompanying the sequence to its end, these signifying gestures don’t accumulate toward a thesis, but in their isolation gradually chip away at time, leaving us dizzy and early, present, in front of the Hankou train station. There are no straight roads, and in Wuhan, the atomic driver must hustle space with the will of an unstable citizen.

Che Fei and CU OFFICE’s trans-community: Jin Street Model

Trans-Community space usage distribution. 金街模型空间利用展示。


Gentrification and the Everyday

By Edward Sanderson

Part 3: Everyday Life

Occupation, as I talked about in the previous part, is an expression of the Everyday and an important part of Everyday Life involves the active occupation of space, for example in the way the HomeShop has come to occupy its new site. The consequences of occupation threaten institutionalisation, which may lead to gentrification in its imposition of permanent change on an area.
On the other hand institutionalisation protects HomeShop’s work from over-ephemerality or instant dispersal. The positive side of this comes from an example of activism, as Isaac Mao points out:

“… In China, many dissidents and activists are opening up their personal information. Why? Because previously they just wanted to close it down to protect themselves without being tracked by the government. Someone might want people to know his position so he can do things secretly. But now many are opening up this information because they see the social power. Once they’ve opened up their position, home phone, and travel plans, more people in the cloud know where they are at the same time as the authorities. He is protected even as he is tracked.”

Get the Flash Player to see the wordTube Media Player.

德国艺术家Ulrike JOHANNSEN8月份访问家作坊的时候跟Emi UEMURA(植村絵美)合拍了一部“口袋短片”关于城市园艺。这个月底她们将在维也纳播放她们的DIY“种子炸弹”教育短片,但你可以先在这里看看我们的迷你模糊版本~

Liebe Freunde, Freundinnen und Interessierte, Vienna-based artist Ulrike JOHANNSEN made a short video with buddy Emi UEMURA during her stay at HomeShop, taking off as the first contribution to the CAPITAL archive (stay tuned for more details…). Their pocket film on seed bombing in Beijing will be shown at the upcoming mini-fest “Urban Gardening & Pocket Films” in Vienna, but here’s the blurry mini version for you first.

FR 24.9 – SO 3.10
Wienstation, Lerchenfelder Gürtel Bogen 28, 1080 Wien

Songs of the Donkey

The reading club meeting, involving three texts somewhat innocent of each other’s connections, was held in the shop in Caochangdi. The texts—”The Burdens of Linearity: Donkey Urbanism” by Catherine Ingraham (1999), “Lethal Theory” by Eyal Weizman (2006) and “The Shanghai Gang” by Richard MacGregor (2010)—encompassed a broad range of issues whose relations could potentially crisscross and veer in various directions, for and against the grain of theory, out of or in the range of empirical topic. These texts were all further intertwined by their being chosen within the frame of the Donkey Institute of Contemporary Art’s Co-Director Michael Yuen, inviting speculation on applied theory or grounded discussion.

Within the sequence, the first text to be discussed was Weizman’s, which happened to be about the use of theory by the Israeli military in dealing with or rather in “interpreting” architecture, in their raids on Palestinian towns and settlements. The discussion led us from the “radical” technique of walking through walls, which is done by creating holes in existing architecture to make new paths through private spaces, and the supposedly non-hierarchical swarming techniques by which individual Israeli  soldiers carry out their tasks independently and in no particular order, to tactical specificity (targeting particular individuals for capture or assassination), all ostensibly based on ideas derived from theorists such as Foucault, Deleuze and Tschumi. But that is not to say these techniques or theories, though they explain the complexity of contemporary built environments, populations and conflicts, are any less traumatic or destructive than conventional warfare. Consider the upending of the categories of private and public, which, after seeming like a novel shift in print, is utterly destabilizing when your house becomes a thoroughfare. We talked about  how implicated theory itself was in this outcome, and whether such outcomes mandated changes in the way theory would be written.

Meanwhile Michael had to run outside because the donkey was getting some grief from one of the caretakers at the gate for trying to enter the brick art district. DICA had arrived, but for the moment, we pressed on with the texts.

Ingraham’s article counterposed a number of texts to draw out the subject of the beast in Modern architecture’s scheme of things. Beginning with Le Corbusier, who ridiculed the distractedness of the donkey vis à vis the straight intentional lines of Modern man and his cities; and continuing with Claude Lévi-Strauss’ description of getting lost on his mule in the jungle, which in the end becomes a revelation of his views of the relationship between writing systems, architecture, human organization and therefore mass violence; Ingraham’s account thereby leads its winding way to Jacques Derrida and to the subject of writing. To the ideas of the “origins” of straight lines and their import for urbanism. Ingraham says: “Urbanism and architecture, as we have already seen through the strange narratives of Le Corbusier and Lévi-Strauss, come (in a state of considerable hegemony) to the geometric (straight) line in the immediate presence of the animal (swerving, making a path), which irrevocably perturbs the hegemonic and the straight. And, lest we forget, the animal is not “The Animal,” but the principle of animality that belongs entirely to human culture.”

We took a group trip to the roadside display of books currently on view in DICA. A small crowd had gathered even on this side street, but this is the curious custom of the institute. The books were all translated with post-it notes, but there was one Chinese reader with his shirt off slowly, systematically orating aloud the English captions of David Shrigley’s red book. Someone stroked the animal’s muzzle (in fact, it looked like a bit like a horse). It’s interesting to see DICA at rest, because it is one of the rare moments when an institution can be seen to be loitering, waiting for the next thing, to move on, the cart owners squatting in the hot sun.

Finally, returning to the air-conditioned interior, we discussed the urban state of Beijing. To some degree the straight lines of Beijing were already unstraight from the beginning based on behavior like opposing traffic, bringing the intimate to the sidewalk; and the city’s fabric was already porous, plurally interpreted, multipurpose, because of the means and necessities of daily life, in the spaces of difference between the so-called privileged and underprivileged and the state and reality, most poignantly felt in the reducing to rubble of communities and erection of new developments within no time at all. And history. And some are happy, others angry, some come up with entrepreneurial solutions and some flee and some bear brunts. And yet as far as those people in the reading club meeting were aware, there is not much theory to support these observations, to reflect on the new perceptual and cognitive spaces that make up contemporary reality from this point of view. Not even co-opted theory. The last text was a chapter from Richard McGregor’s book about the inside of the Communist Party, a not-so-well understood organization. This chapter by McGregor, a financial journalist in his day-job, concerned the anti-corruption campaigns that targeted Shanghai’s dizzy urban developers and their government friends, marking the period of politcal turnover from Jiang Zemin to Hu Jintao, while it also demonstrated the difficulties facing anyone on a lower level trying to expose corruption using official bureaucratic channels. The philosophy behind this situation is challenging, because it is often not outwardly debated or addressed; but looking around at the cityscape, the effects of this hidden philosophy—visible at least in deed beneath the bold slogans—certainly seemed materially manifest. Perhaps the theory of the donkey can only be just such a blunt confrontation of material, and the reading group’s radar could simply not pick it up. When one person present, who was a local, was asked what happened to the people who get displaced when the buildings come down, he said he didn’t know.