Cultivate or Revolutionize? Life between Apartment and Farmland

25 October 2014–27 October 2014, 10:00–17:00 / Guangzhou
Saturday–Monday, 25–27 October, 10:00–12:30 & 14:00–17:00 
Guangdong Times Museum
Times Rose Garden III, Huang Bian Bei Road, Baiyun Avenue
Guangzhou, China
See program below.

Today’s accelerated urbanization process in Asia has seen vertical living—that is, living in high-rise apartments—become an endemic and defining form of collective life. Distinct from the western post-war apartment or social housing, this model is a response to and generative of what is to be middle class: largely defined by security, convenience, individualism, purposive isolation, and the power to consume. Whether consciously or unconsciously, the middle class is immersed in a process whereby the entanglement of the self, dwelling space, community, and the surrounding material and spiritual environments is falling away; in this condition, we could argue that the spaces of vertical living function as apparatuses in the employ of capitalist governance. 

The public seminar Cultivate or Revolutionize? Life between Apartment and Farmland is convened to imagine the possible counter-apparatuses, according to two premises: 1) What if Guangdong Times Museum, which is built atop a high-rise apartment in Guangzhou, is taken as such a model? 2) Moreover, what about exploring its relationship with farmlands, with apartments like the one in which the museum is located? In fact, only a few decades ago the use and visibility of farmland was an integral part of daily life in Asia. But under the capitalist agenda driven by urban development, farmland has largely been replaced by apartment blocks; the second- or third-generation peasant families who were formerly on that land have either been moving into newly built apartments (with a class upgrade perhaps) or taking shelter in temporary housing as precarious migrant workers.

Our proposition is to recall this transition and find a third space of living and practicing between the urban and the rural. Certainly this is not an effort to be nostalgic about agricultural lifestyles, nor to envision a commune in rural areas that retreats from all things urban. As we know, agricultural practice itself was also absorbed by the capitalist economy, and farming is hard labor. The attempt in this seminar is rather to intermesh two different types of “architectures” in order to decompose current forms of urban life and find alternative forms for a sustainable, sociable, and commoning future. Art institutions in alignment with artistic, cultural, and social practices might undertake this task so as to cultivate different kinds of practices of living.


Day 1: Un-inhabiting the Apartment Apparatus 

Introduction by Nikita Yingqian Cai and Binna Choi
Screening of Sung Hwan Kim’s Temper Clay (2012) 
Presentations by Urban China, O-Office Architects and JinzaSpace and discussion moderated by Binna Choi 

Day 2: Art Institution as Counter-Apparatus

Double launch of 2014 publications Grand Domestic Revolution Handbook and Cluster: Dialectionary by Binna Choi
Lectures by Andrea Phllips and Marco Kusumawijaya
Screening of Cao Fei’s Haze and Fog (2013)
Presentation by Chen Xiaoyang and discussion moderated by Nikita Yingqian Cai 

Day 3: Between an Apartment and a Farm: Ways of Living Together

Presentations by Fernando García-Dory, The Land Foundation and Zheng Bo
Roundtable discussion moderated by Nikita Yingqian Cai and Binna Choi 

Admission to Times Museum is always free. All events and schedule are subject to change, for updates and further information, please check our official website; All events happen within Times Museum except for special notice.  The seminar is part of the para-curatorial series initiated by Guangdong Times Museum, which features an annual seminar and related publication. As a discursive platform where on-site responses are encouraged as an active form of reflection and self-education, it aims at situating the investigation and discussion of contemporary art within a broader social, economic, and cultural context; the curatorial is regarded as multiple forms of thinking, researching, spatial practicing, and knowledge exchanging not restricted to the making of an exhibition. The registration and sharing of multidisciplinary knowledge and practice activates the museum into becoming a temporary coalition comprising a community center, laboratory, and academy. The exhibition is realized with support by Consulate-General of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Guangzhou. Times Museum is core funded by Times Property.

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