Thursday, May 21, 2009

Instant Hutong

I stumbled upon this today, what a great project! Showcased below is just the carpets and identity blocks but when you visit the site they have done so much more. I love the emphasis on social investigation and the work is just beautiful.

Instant Hutong art project investigates the borderline case of Hutong districts in old downtown Beijing. The work explores both spatial and social aspects to screen the uniqueness of a urban tissue made of lanes and courtyard houses and the community of people living in it. It is organized as a series of art pieces and installations on the border between art, social investigation and urban research in the aim to generate and stimulate an open debate. The work is currently involving questions such density, unstructured re-appropriation, gentrification, relationship between people and their physical space, property speculation, disappearing community and identity.

The approach is open and flexible, mixing together different media and techniques of visual arts to capture every little mark of this reality in transformation. They started using maps of old Beijing, which have been reinterpreted as spatial textures, transformed, decontextualized, reinvented and readapted. Those detailed maps are generally forbidden from Chinese government and at first it was necessary a preliminary research work to get them and then redraw completely line by line.

Carpets are representing different maps of Hutong areas with a size of approximately one square kilometre and a population of 30000. Each of them has been isolated and presented as autonomous town within the big city. They are embroidered by hand with the same technique of the propaganda slogans on large fabrics used by the communist party during the seventies. The carpets have been filled with white wire wool insertions.

Platform made of 1500 beijing grey bricks and 1500 red chinese plastic stamps placed on it. Stamps have a central role in Chinese people’s life: they use them to confirm agreements and validate their actions. In a certain way loosing your stamp is like loosing your own identity. Each stamp is not carrying a name but it has been carved with a fragment of map, a group of houses, a piece of city, to mark the relationship and identification between people and their living space.

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