Of Sites and Contexts: engaging locality and the cultural networks of the Pearl River Delta

Feb 22, 2014

The Value Factory at the Bi-city Biennale of Urbanism\Architecture (UABB) in Shenzhen

A collaboration between Hong Kong based non-profit organisations, POP-UP Studio-X Shenzhen, and the Value Factory at the Bi-city Biennale of Urbanism\Architecture (UABB) in Shenzhen

22 February 2014 --This one-day programme critically examines the production and shaping of narratives around cultural regeneration projects like the Value Factory, a rehabilitated floating glass factory in Shekou, Shenzhen, where the Biennial takes place.

As more and more sites, from heritage to industrial, are repurposed to house creative industries in the name of ‘preservation,’ we need to deliberate questions of sustainability and the formation of creative spaces in a capitalistic context and the commodification of cultural industries both past and present.

Through screenings, discussions, and site tours, this programme examines the relationship of heritage site renewal to gentrification and its effects on the local as well as the place of autonomous practice in a highly industrialised world.

Opening with legendary filmmaker Charlie Chaplin’s celebrated silent film Modern Times (1936), a critical commentary on the labor, employment, and fiscal conditions subjected on people in the industrialised world after the Great Depression, the first part of the programme will focus on the definitions of preservation and consider for whom such cultural renewal is for. Bi-City Biennale of Urbanism\Architecture (Shenzhen) Creative Director Ole Bouman, OCT Contemporary Art Terminal Art Director Carol Yinghua Lu, Artistic Director of the Shenzhen Art Museum Lu Hong, scholar Koon Yeewan, and artist Eddie Lui Fung-Ngar will contribute to the discussion. 

The second part of the programme begins with a screening of Whose Utopia (2007), local Guangzhou artist Cao Fei’s film about the interplay of factory workers’ dreams and their conflicts with the realities of modern life in China’s rapidly expanding industrial cities. The following discussion will use the PRD region as a starting point to examine practices that while inhabiting the creative industry also heed to the needs and wants of the local. Speakers include architect and Director of Global Programming at Studio-X New York Marina Otero Verzier, architect Jianxing He, architect and Associate Professor in the faculty of architecture at Hong Kong University Eric Schuldenfrei, and artists Zheng Guogu and Keith Lam.

Using the occasion of the Urbanism/Architecture Biennale as a platform to question the role of creative development in former industrial areas, these programmes hope to broaden the framework of both urbanism and architecture beyond the cultural sphere to include the local, the industrial, and the vernacular of the PRD.

This event is organised by The School of Architecture at The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Asia Art Archive, Para Site Art Space, The Ink Society and Hong Kong Arts Festival in collaboration with POP-UP Studio-X Shenzhen and The Value Factory at the Bi-city Biennale of Urbanism\Architecture (UABB) in Shenzhen. 

PROGRAMME DETAILS:

Date: 22 February 2014

Venue: The Value Factory at the Bi-city Biennale of Urbanism\Architecture (UABB) in Shenzhen

SCREENING – PART I

12.30-2.10pm:

Introduction by Qinyi Lim (Curator, Para Site Art Space)

Modern Times, Charlie Chaplin (89 min)

Written and directed by Charlie Chaplin, this silent film was and still seen as a critical commentary on the labor, employment and fiscal conditions subjected on people in the modern, industrialized world that surfaced in the shadow of the Great Depression.

TOUR

1.00-1.30pm:

Tour of Value Factory at the Bi-city Biennale of Urbanism\Architecture (UABB) in Shenzhen

PANEL DISCUSSION

2.30-4.00pm:

Welcome and Introduction by Marisa Yiu (Curator, POP-UP Studio-X Shenzhen & Assistant Professor, School of Architecture, The Chinese University of Hong Kong)

This discussion will consider the recent history and development of economic and cultural policies in the Pearl River Delta region. Taking into consideration recent cultural projects, this panel seeks to explore questions of sustainability and formation of creative spaces in a capitalistic context and the commodification of cultural industries both past and present. This discussion will look upon the definitions of preservation, renewal of heritage sites, and their links to gentrification. It questions whom this renewal is for and the assumption of historical amnesia upon which such renewal hinges.

Speakers:

Ole Bouman is a Dutch architecture specialist, and is the Creative Director of the Bi-City Biennale of Urbanism/Architecture (Shenzhen).

Lu Hong is an artist and curator, and is the Artistic Director of the Shenzhen Art Museum.

Carol Yinghua Lu is a curator and art critic, and the Art Director at OCT Contemporary Art Terminal.

Moderator:

Koon Yeewan is Associate Professor in the department of Fine Arts at Hong Kong University.

Respondent:

Eddie Lui Fung-Ngar is an artist, and the Project Advisor of the Ink Society.

SCREENING – PART II

4.00-4.30pm:

Introduction by Lydia Chan (Programme Coordinator, The Ink Society)

Whose Utopia, Cao Fei (22min)

Whose Utopia locates itself on the lives of workers at the Osram lighting factory in the Pearl River Delta region. Filmed over a period of six months, Cao's film fuses the everyday mechanized experiences of the factory with the individualized performances of the workers, illuminating their silent aspirations.

CASE STUDIES

4.30-6.00pm:

Introduction by Chantal Wong (Strategy and Special Projects, Asia Art Archive)

Taking locality as the starting point, each of the case studies inhabits the creative industry and economy while heeding the needs and wants of the local. This discussion seeks to explore the underlying exigency behind their practices, questioning the use of craft in a time when it is widely romanticised, the communities to which these case studies speak, and the longstanding effects of their practices.

Speaker:

Zheng Guogu is an artist. His practice, encompassing architecture, design, and photography, reacts to the social and economic shifts happening in China.

Jianxing He is a Founding Partner at O-office Architects, which focuses on Southern Chinese urbanity as a research and a design topic.

Keith Lam is an artist and Founder of Dimension Plus, a creative team focused on new media-embedded space and cross-discipline interactive design.

Eric Schuldenfrei is a Founding Partner of ESKYIU and Associate Professor in the faculty of architecture at Hong Kong University. His work explores the relationship between architecture, animation, technology, and art.

Marina Otero Verzier is an architect and researcher with a focus on geopolitics and contemporary cultures of circulation. She is the Director of global programming at Studio-X New York. 

This event is organised by The School of Architecture at The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Asia Art Archive, Para Site Art Space, The Ink Society and Hong Kong Arts Festival in collaboration with POP-UP Studio-X Shenzhen and The Value Factory at the Bi-city Biennale of Urbanism\Architecture (UABB) in Shenzhen.