Concept and Editorial Direction :: Beatrice LEANZA
Editorial Assistants :: HAN Chang, ZHAO Ying, Claudia FENG
Copy editing and proofreading :: David Drakeford
Designed by :: LI Xibin and SUN Xiaoyu from D-T-Z-W Design Studio
Published by :: Beijing Design Week, June 2014
Published on the occasion of the exhibition Across Chinese Cities – Beijing, an official collateral event of the 14th International Architecture Exhibition La Biennale di Venezia, THE READER is as complementary research tool inclusive of a rich textual selection from original sources excerpted from existing historical and critical literature, fiction, journalism, blogs and articles, in Chinese and foreign languages. Some of the Chinese texts appearing here have been translated in English for the first time. THE READER is oragnized in 7 thematic chapters referencing and complementing those articulating the show, namely:The Outer and Inner City (on Architecture and Urban History) Cultural Hub Historic Industries and Commercial Ecology The People’ Factor and The Real Estate of Things The Pre-Olympic Conundrum (A City that was) Preservation, Friend or Foe? Communities and The Architecture of Relationships
Contributors included experts and participants to the exhibition:
Michele MATTEINI, Aric CHAN, Laura Trombetta PANIGALDI, Abitare China magazine, Approach Architecture, CAFA – Central Academy of Fine Arts, Matali CRASSETT, CYJO, Instant Hutong, Kenya Hara studio, LAVA design agency, Lumalu, Meta Hutongs, People Architecture Foundation, People’s Architecture Office, reMIX Architecture, SANS Practice, Varvara SHAVROVA, Standardarchitecture, Studio Ramoprimo + MDDM Studio, The DaZhaLan Project (CAO Fei and OU Ning), Jia Yong, MAD Architects, Michael YOUNG, HUA Xinmin, CUI Yong
Making Community showcases a selection of ongoing initiatives rendering a generative grammar of creative engagement with the spatial and social context of the Chinese capital.
This relational archipelago of interdisciplinary design practices is both premise and product of an evolving cultural predicament formulated by the mutually defining changes along the design-and-community nexus in the contemporary urban realm. Radically collaborative and open-ended, they are inherently shaped as metaphorical constructs of ‘speech and duration’ that reflect on the urgency for localized forms of intellectual and practical connectivity to amplify and enable solutions in the contested spaces of the city, for and with its constituencies. The exhibition is therefore not conceived as a static display of finished products, but as an ‘architecture of relationships’ informed by urban research and social agency engaged in the rethinking of existing topographies of knowledge production, and the creation of instruments for its dissemination.
A selection presented for the first time in an international context and originally featured during Beijing Design Week 2013, Making Community offers itself as a dynamic archive and a participatory device to open a conversational space around: design and cultural heritage, architectural preservation and urban revitalization, sustainability, up-cycling and environmental consumption, digital and artisanal fabrication, interactive and social design.The creative outputs range in open-source research platforms for urban innovation, digital and print publications, books, experiential apps, identity and branding, product co-design, documentaries and experimental videos, among others. Taken here as a case-study, BJDW plays out as a resounding system of creative communities, where territoriality and collectivity are continuous with its molecular formation as co-creation. It aims at forging a force field that can augment and expand professional perspectives into institutional agendas and public debate, to devise the tools and the awareness for ‘process’ to truly be emplaced as productive exchange on the micro-scale. As one of the core projects developing within BJDW urban ecology, the Dashilar Pilot project is here employed as a narrative dispositive of concrete solutions implemented through transcultural and cross-disciplinary interactions. Launched with the BJDW 2013 edition in close cooperation with the Dashilar Culture Investment, a governmental developer, it is an international call for ideas responsive to Dashilar historical area of densely populated alleys (hutongs), its aging infrastructure and endangered architectural and social landscape. An abridged presentation of resulting proposals serves here to contextualize the complexity of ‘transformation’ – a form of collective thinking involving the making of professional and social communities wired to institutional networking – as opposed to the complacency in political agendas of ‘change’. Textual and visual narratives caption each project with information about their initiators and contributors; relevant links to online platforms are provided for audiences to start forming an understanding of a Beijing-bound design landscape and part-take in an ever growing laboratory for innovation and self-engagement.
The exhibition set up and visual design are the work of SANS, a Beijing-based studio made of Neill Gaddes and Yijing Xu, who’s been involved in the development of the Dashilar Project since its inception, and contributed heavily in making the Dashilar Pilot series possible.
Participants and Projects:
Participants names refer to those of initiators, many of these projects are the result of multiple contributions which are credited in the documentation provided on site of the show.
A.M.I. (Appropriate, Mutate, Innovate), Audio Archecology & Concrete Flux (Tom Baxter and Solveig Suess), CYJO, Dashilar Pilot series: [Hutong Toilets (Michael Young), Pop-Up Canopy (Peoples Architecture Office), 2 Yangmeizhu (reMIX studio), Fringe Density (Urbanus), Rabbit Grandpa Zhan (metaLINGO), Modul’Hutong (Matali Crasset), Micro-Hutong (standardarchitecture studio), The Museum of Bicycle Parts (CAFA Visual Communication dpt), Scagnel (Luca Nichetto)], Design For the Real China, Hutopolis (Gianantonio Bongiorno, Eugenia Murialdo, Luis Aguirre Manso), Interactive Beijing (Fei Jun and Lulu Li), LAVA Design Studio, Meta-Hutong (Andy Bryant and Wang Shuo), MovingCities (Bert de Muynck and Mónica Carriço), SANS (Neill Gaddes and Yijing Xu), The Other Place, Wai Architecture Think Tank (Nathalie Frankowski and Cruz Garcia), Sander Wassink.
A selection of publication and books presented within the show will be also available at the CFCCA store: Concrete Flux magazine, LAVA Mobile Design Agency Newspaper, Hutopolis book, Abitare China HUTONG, special summer issue 2013, Pure Hardcore Icons publication.
September 24 – October 3, 2011
BJDW – Beijing International Design Week 2011
Design HOP | Dashilan’r, Beijing
The project takes cue from Naihan LI’s latest series of design works titled “The Crates”. Inspired by the volatile and exuberant spirit of a contemporary urban habitat like Beijing’s and its epic detournement of building construction, decay and regeneration, LI’s mobile creations accommodate with poetic comfort the moody impracticality of globe-trotting, ready-to-move lifestyles. Sofas, beds, bookshelves, workstations, and foosball tables pop out of their own shipping shell to form a unique spatial language which is whole with a ‘total’ concept of dwelling. Wooden crates become carapaces to contain the body, objects and the memories we carry with them. Situational freeplay and sculptural abstraction blend here to make room for a design practice which is intrinsically relational and open-ended.
On this occasion a brand new all-in-one Media Box was presented, including its mini-cinema, DJ deck, lights, karaoke equipment, multimedia screens and seating area.
Concierge is a curatorial inspiration developing from this design ensamble: the installation built inside one of Dashilanr’s old factory complexes materialized an inexistent part of the actual building dubbed “The House of Leaves“, a semi-private/semi-public residence located on the edge of the Fifth Ring Road in Caochangdi village (also home to BAO Atelier offices). Drawn upon an intimate image of both action and reflection, this serendipitous space represents an antechamber of no definite time or spatial confines, a public retreat and an interior garden activated by a politics otherwise known as ‘meeting’. Daily talk-shops, happenings and presentations are accompanied by impromptu performances and informal gatherings, with cocktail making sessions and live music. Events included among others: a scribbling, scrawling and mixing afternoon with WEN Ling (aka Ziboy), graffiti artist HE Cong and Leo (86/33 link); workshops organized in collaboration with the British Council, such as “Domestic Super Objects”, an experiment with everyday domestic objects to reveal their creative potential by designer Nelly BEN HAYOUN, and “Nuclear Tea Party You” by designer Zoe PAPADOPOULOU.
November 11, 2010 – January 24, 2011
Platform China Contemporary Art Institute | Beijing, CN
The tripartite exhibition The Third Party (see The Third Party [curatorial]) explores the shaping relationships between narrative and aesthetic objects to foreground an inquiry in the realm of the ‘ordinary’ specific to the Chinese context. By juxtaposing different acts of description as represented in the work of a group of artists from across the country, the three portions of the exhibition place three different possibilities of narrative articulation. From the most intimate and solipsistic to the collective and participatory, they intend to break off the circuit of signification and knowledge between work and world, and rather expose the processes by which meaning is produced and attributed.
The exhibition is visually designed to present the works of the individual artists as self‐pronounced archival displays. While each act features a different group of artists, some of the works will varyingly evolve in the course of the three months or come to completion at an arbitrary moment in time. Responsive to the idea of the exhibition as a ‘field report’, one that escapes the structural preordering of objectifying analysis, a special architectural installation called The Beehive has been devised by LI Naihan. Constituted by units of hexagonal cardboard boxes variously repurposed to be adopted and adapted according to the works, The Beehive creates a deceptive information system that allows for the temporary arrangement of both things and the ‘emotional ecologies’ attached to them. It allows the works to drift in their own visual and material reality while making it possible for us to see them as disjunctions of a larger contextual narrative.
BAO office | Caochangdi village, CN
In fact, it all starts with a leak.
Giuliana Bruno, Public Intimacy – Architecture and the Visual Arts
The House of Leaves is a three-story red brick building covering 560 sqm that comprises a private (or semi-private) apartment on its top floor, a working station (BAO office) on the second floor and a large public living room.
The house as an intimate image is ultimately an impossible space. It is a reeling archive of processes that keep on changing and being drawn towards the irrationality of depths and new beginnings, deprived, as it becomes, of the certainty of relative topography. In intimate spaces things are imagined and set in motion in timeless interiors, they are stretched between memory and anticipation, between the idlesse of thoughts and the intentionality of objects, bound to the dual function of reality and unreality. So of change and new beginnings. Or of meaningful in-betweenness.
We move back to where we were. Things have changed, the village has changed. It has gone from 场 [chǎng, cháng] – an open field, a generic space, a place of gathering, to 厂 [chǎng] – a workshop, a factory, a place of productive purpose. At least, the new signage off the fifth ring road says so. Caochangdi, once dark and subterranean, is now well lit and architecturally sound.
Somewhere between those two signs dwells an image of poetic comfort, an emotional retreat. On one side the open-endedness and idleness of freeplay — that primordial function of inhabiting that separates us from both past and reality, where things and time can be squandered, undone, dissipated; on the other, a site of function, a place of scheduled objectivity and self-awareness.
The House of Leaves sits amidst said confines. It takes its name from the genre-defining novel written by Mark Z. DANIELEWSKI. A typographically labyrinthine book tiered through multiple narrators and triggered by continuous détournements of filmic narrative, it is designed in an architecture of knowledge that both defines and defies itself. The book is a house, about a movie of a house, whose interior changes unexpectedly further and deeper than its exterior. As it’s been observed, it is impossbile to read The House of Leaves the same way twice. It is meant to be an impossible space, and it should be explored like one. What constitutes and builds throughout the act of reading is ultimately a private space of imaginific derangement where multiple cross-references leak from phrases to extruded paragraphs and page-long footnotes – the actual house arises from within the fractures of its building process.
Seemingly this House of Leaves appears as an architectural analogue of what we have set our practice to be ever since we founded BAO Atelier in 2006.
April 14 – 19, 2010
Salone Internazionale del Mobile – Milan Design Week | project of CDM 2010
Design Library | Milano, IT
Introduced within the framework of CDM 2010, the exhibition is conceived as a wondrous journey into contemporary object-scapes through the creative processes of a young generation of 30 Chinese independent designers, artists and studios as a way to explore both formally and conceptually the micro-fields of everyday life. These formal experimentations often resort to natural materials and textiles, paper, wood and bamboo, and to different ways for revisiting traditional techniques, formats and forms of image-making, therefore rethinking the way they continue to mediate a sense of proximity to the social, the subjective and the philosophical. In bringing together these experiences the present appears as an ahistorical shelter where illusion and artifice are granted an essential purpose that is to induce us in a state of suspended reading, “native in some way to the primary function of inhabiting” (G. BACHELARD). With the aim to create a connection to their original context of production the exhibition design transforms the darkened room at DesignLibrary into a theatrical stage-set drawn upon the floor plan of a prototypical modern Chinese household, a symbolic remake of a changed sense of domestic, private space in contemporary urban society. This built form realized as an abstract structure of white walls (polystyrene) and floor lines as seen in architectural drawings, is a calculated reproduction of an 80 sqm apartment with a small night garden. By wondering these rooms the visitors are taken into a filmic detour into the personal life and visual histories behind the designers while discovering the minutiae of everyday worlds in continuous change.
September 10, 2009 – October 11, 2009
Part of the 2009 Shanghai eArts Festival
DDMwarehouse | Shanghai, CN
curators :: Alex ADRIAANSENS, LI Zhenhua
exhibition design :: LI Naihan
09′ New Media Archaeology attempts to offer up new media realities happening at several time-cues in the past, the present and the future. This reality is revealed through several clues. One clue comes from the development of visual art after photography. Another is from the art forms influenced by the knowledge and technologies in different fields based on science of chaos developed in the 1960′s. 09′ New Media Archaeology intends to integrate new media art developments under these two main clues, and to implement further discourse, exhibition and discussion with such social topics as urban design, public education and concept integration. It is hoped that a new mode of development can be co-constructed beyond borderlines between artists, planners, organizations and universities from different countries, presenting the sources of these clues by establishing the past events of new media, determining starting directions through discussion of future events, and a platform for discussion can be provided through present exhibitions.
— from the event press release
visual identity, graphic & catalogue design
UBS Art collection three-part touring exhibition in China (Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou)
catalogues included ::
Moving Horizons –The UBS Art Collection: 1960s to the Present Day, NAMOC – National Art Museum of China | September 29 – November 4, 2008
Memories for Tomorrow: Works from The UBS Art Collection, Shanghai Art Museum, Shanghai | June 6 – July 20, 2008
Fact and Fiction: Recent works from The UBS Art Collection, Guangdong Museum of Art, Guangzhou | February 21 – March 22, 2009
Borderline Moving Images – Shanghai edition (unrealized project)
Special Edition within the framework of INTRUDE – Art & Life (Zendai Museum)
Shanghai & Beijing, CN
The special Shanghai edition of Borderline (see Borderline – Moving Images and The Opportunist [curatorial]) is designed as an information network revolving around a broadcasting unit, it is an experiential tool for motivating an alternative experience of space by way of time. With a total of 100 hours programmation (i.e., 4 days + 4 hours), The Opportunist will take up different forms of public interventions in both physical sites, “on air” sessions and the web. The proposal includes a dedicated webpage running literally as a time-machine where videos, articles and podcasts are uploaded at each corresponding hour per featured project.
The broadcasting unit is conceived as a self-sufficient structure for use in public spaces; fully equipped with radio and DJ deck, external LED lights and projection surfaces, this central hub would play host to a series of talks, live performances, screenings and music programs, thus becoming a connective node for physical and virtual communication with the city and online communities.
June 23 – July 1, 2007
various locations | Beijing, CN
main organizers :: BAO Atelier & Platform China Contemporary Art Institute, Beijing
in collaboration with: Soho China, Ltd., 86/33 Link, Theatre in Motion, Chaos Projects
supporting institutions :: CAFA (Central Academy of Fine Arts), Beijing Film Academy, Goethe Institute Peking, Austrian Cultural Forum, Norwegian Office of Foreign Affairs, Embassy of Belgium in China, Mexican Secretary of Foreign Relations (Mexico), Icelandic Art Center
sponsored by :: MinSheng Bank, Barco, Boloni Group, Intelligent Alternative
media partners :: Modern Media, Domus China, Time Out Beijing, Danwei.org, City Pictorial, City Weekend, Vision, Art&Design China
Opening exhibition of Borderline Moving Images 2007
SoHo Shangdu Underground Parking Lot | Beijing, CN
artists :: Fikret ATAY, Johanna BILLING, Candice BREITZ, Mircea CANTO, Calin DAN, Claire FONTAINE, 高世强 GAO Shiqiang, Clarisse HAHN, Teresa HUBBARD & Alexander BIRCHLER, Jesper JUST, Mathieu LAURETTE, Melik OHANIAN, 欧宁 OU Ning & 曹斐 CAO Fei, 石青 SHI Qing, Ulla Von BRANDEMBURG, 吴文光 WU Wenguang, 张培力 ZHANG Peili.
Through the ideal city, the grand socialist city, the modern city — the social, subjective and political space are represented.
The space design accommodates the narrative of the different video pieces into a constructed environment of ephemeral simulation, where the spatial qualities of certain Beijing urban tropes and structures of spatial signification, sociality, movement, will be juxtaposed to specific filmic stories. Seduction is a staged fiction that wishes to provoke how forms and processes of production ultimately surface while questioning the reception and understanding of cultural orders as reconstructed truths. In the underground site of SoHo Shangdu parking lot, the experience offered to the viewer and the challenge put on the works presented is that of reconsidering the way they expose themselves to each other (as belonging to diverse critical/cultural/information systems and subjective spheres) while restoring that minimum distance necessary for the latent meaning of the image to remain still and become a point of collective meeting and counter representation. In this sense the show also puts together filmic languages that are very distant yet articulates vivid coded systems within a hybrid environment. The participation of the public in the reading of the show is thus one based on displacement and surprise, unattended meetings with subconscious and alien “possibilities” of existence that the one dimensional media performance of the modernizing process often hides, yet perpetuates.
January – October 2007
15 December 2006 − 04 February 2007
Guangdong Museum Of Art | Guangzhou, CN
08 March 2007 − 06 May 2007
Capital Museum | Beijing, CN
“Aftershock tells the story of how the UK’s artistic landscape was revolutionized as a new generation of British artists injected a heady mix of controversy and glamour into the contemporary art world. As a result, the UK’s art market has enjoyed a spectacular resurgence, and popularity in exhibitions of contemporary art has soared, as witnessed in the runaway success of Tate Modern, London’s first museum of international modern and contemporary art which opened in 2000. Aftershock features eight works selected from the British Council’s own extensive collection of British art, in addition to major loans from public and private collections, and works lent by the artists themselves. It includes sculpture, painting, video installation, photography and works on paper, both early iconic works and new work made in the past year.” -excerpt from press release
8 November 2006 – 11 February 2007
Catalogue of exhibition at Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo | Turin, IT
Alllooksame? / Tutttuguale? is an exhibition aimed at emphasizing the complexity of the art scene in China, Japan and Korea from a Western point of view. Such an approach shows how difficult it can be for a non-Asian curator to set aside his prejudices and find a thread across the different identities of the three countries, which are already intertwined on a historical and linguistic level, but completely different, or even opposed, in terms of culture and creativity. The title, Alllooksame? / Tutttuguale?, was borrowed from an Internet site that was created by a young Japanese — partly as a joke, partly to celebrate the stereotype of “diversity at any cost” while underlining the significant difference between prejudice and racism.
—from the introduction written by Francesco BONAMI
participating artists :: CAO Fei, CHEN Qiulin, CHEN Shaoxiong, CHEN Xiaoyun, HU Yang, JIANG Zhi, KAN Xuan, LI Shurui, LIANG Juhui, LIU Ding, LIU Wei, LU Chunsheng, Qingyun MA, SHI Yong, SONG Tao, WANG Xingwei, Xu Zhen, YANG Yong, YANG Zhenzhong; AYOAMA Satoru, BAIK Hyunjhin, CHOI Ho Chul, GIM Hongsok, Im Gook, KIM Beom, KIM Kira, KOO Donghee, LEE Hyungkoo, LEE Yong-Baek, PARK Junebum, SO Young Choi; AKIYAMA Sayaka, FUKAYA Etzuko, KAKITANI Tomoki, KANEUJI Teppei, Manabu IKEDA, MAKOTO Aida, MORI Chihiro and SHOJI Michiko
A project stemming from the homonymous exhibition featuring Italian artist Andrea GOTTI and Beijing based sound-artist duo FM3 (Christiaan VIRANT and ZHANG Jian), held at B.T.A.P. (Beijing Tokyo Art Project) gallery in Beijing from January 26 – March 26, 2006.
It is structured into three main sections. Each of the sections is entrenched into a different reading speed, highlighted by the different devices used to express it (image, sound, text), as well as by shape, material and reading orientation.
The reading activity is lead through by three diverse time performances (circular, point-like and linear) as embedded in the architecture of the book itself.
The featured material consists of: photos (archival material of past journeys taken by Andrea GOTTI around China and relevant to the installation theme, a time-line of the work in progress of the featured installation, together with “pictorial” still-lives and GOTTI’s preparatory works), written files (the essays by the author blending critique and intellectual fiction; academic contribution and philosophical artistry from East and West are confronted in the pieces by philosopher Gianni VATTIMO and artist AI Weiwei) and sound files (a CD card embedded inside the book, cast in a 3 mm thick transparent acrylic sheet containing sonic architecture by FM3).
This book is an immersive reading tool that engages the eye, the ear and the mind. It is a playful and synaesthetic experience that breaks away from the common use of books as binding linear reading. It invites the reader to an interactive reinvention and deconstruction of its different parts.