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    On the Job; Words, Images and impressions from the Shenzhen Biennale

    Orhan Ayyüce Dec 26 '13 2

    Some of the familiar biennale exhibitions were handled by a second venue near Shenzhen Shekou Port Ferry Terminal named “Border Warehouse”.
    There were some panel discussions on visible and invisible borders socially, physically, locally and economically. This subject was developed by the Curators/Academic Directors Li Xiangning and Jeffrey Johnson.
    I just listened part of the discussion on the divides and took a single note when a speaker, Stefan Al, elaborated on the phrase “I-Slave” by talking about manufacturing border and the landscapes of production and landscapes of consumerism. In fact that was the real heart of the discussion or it should be if it wasn't. Global production and its consumption in the neo-liberal sense the real mass public border between rich and poor, liquid social positioning and ways to achieve good life where the architects come in. Can it be harvested so everyone benefits? How cannot the 'Salty Dog Bites the Hand?' Which is the cargo container context of globalism in Allan Sekula's work. The criticality of these type borders in these type of ports alluding the participant cities Hong Kong and Shenzhen, latter being groomed for competitive co-existence with the former.
    Although it was translated simultaneously to mostly Chinese audience, the typical response was understated and mostly muted to the most critical issue Stefan Al raised.
    The rest of the time I was at the Border Warehouse, I took pictures like everyone else and sort of curated my own digital selection of the displays which featured latest and trending exhibition tectonics and design representations which will be attached at the end of these notes.

    I left the Warehouse and took the shuttle back to the Factory where a scheduled panel discussion on the “Biennales” themselves was going on. Rem Koolhaas supposed to be there in that panel but no show. In a way, it was my ulterior motive of going to Shenzhen and interview him for Archinect. I kind of laughed myself a little later thinking about it. "Hey Rem, do you know there was another assassin who killed Kennedy?".... "!!??.. " End of the interview..

    The so called "Biennale" panel was participated by Shenzen Biennale director Ole Bouman and the curators Mr. Xiangning and Mr. Johnson and joined by Guilherme Wisnik, the chief curator of the 10th Sao Paulo Architecture Biennale. The conversation was moderated by Jorn Konijn and gravitated towards the São Paulo Biennale . As some people will remember São Paulo Bienale was coincided with Gezi uprising in Istanbul and Brasil's public transportation fare increase protests. The Biennale itself being staged around public transportation network of São Paulo and meshed by a large public participation. Mr. Wisnik's presentation was concluded by a great answer to his own question, “ What do architecture biennales have to do with discontent?.., everything...” Definitely a people's inclusion into the heart of Architecture <-> Public discussion.

    I will cover Ole Bouman's words about Bi City Biennale when I post the interview I had with him about the 'generative biennale' in Shenzhen before I left China.

    The third and the last panel conversation I attended was about architectural education. It was moderated by Mr. Bouman and participated by Mark Wigley of Studio X and GSAPP. Also present were Alexander D'Hooghe of MIT (whom I interviewed as well and will post later) and Nanne de Ru , Director of the Berlage.
    Of course, each of these participants were so much to say about the subject but Mr. Wigley and his sympathetic persona stole the show. I only entered these quotes to my notebook by him,
    “students should be more interesting than their teachers”
    “architecture schools pretend to have answers”
    “architecture schools are now unstable and because of that, they are interesting”
    “each school should be at least good at one thing”

    That was it. I decided to go to my hotel, be alone and typing, which I did and tried to write and think like Shenzhen.

    “Time is money and efficiency is life.”

     

     
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Archinect Senior Editor Orhan Ayyuce is blogging his thoughts, impressions and provocations.

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