As part of the Digital Workshop Series "Digital Dialogues 數字對話", researchers will discuss various aspects and questions of the joint project.
Making social worlds visible
A talk around art projects documenting Beijing’s recent urban transformation
April 27, 2022, 1.15-2.45 PM CET
On the occasion of the publication “Speculative Grounds – Positions on Beijing’s Transformation” we invite you for a talk discussing how social worlds can and why they should be made visible. For the past five years, an interdisciplinary group of artists, researchers, architects and many others have been using artistic research to understand different facets of Beijing’s urban transformation and its impact on its various social worlds. The publication marks a first retrospect on the Beijing22 project initiated by curators Antonie Angerer, Anna-Viktoria Eschbach and photographer Jannis Schulze.
The response of Beijing’s committee “No Snow, No Problem” to wondering journalists on how the Winter Olympics of Beijing would be able to take place in such a snow scarce place, marked the starting point for the project, choosing 2022 as a timeframe to investigate the urban changes happening until and because of the Winter Olympics. The proclamation of making the impossible possible was a glimpse into the drastic transformation Greater Beijing would be facing in the years to come. The Digital Dialogue “Making Social Worlds visible” invites three projects using different medium and formats of research to investigate some of Beijing’s social worlds. Urban anthropologist Li Pengfei, who has been doing field work on Beijing’s suburban middle class collaborated with artists Jing Y. and Songyi in a project they titled “Beijing Dystopia”, investigating who this city is built for. Theatre writer Chen Si’an produced the piece “Dreams of the Ordinary” based on interviews with the commuting population of Beijing, who travel from home to work on a daily basis chasing the promised dream. “Houchang Village, a Bubble City” developed by urban researcher and artist Wang Jiani, architect Wu Kaifeng and programmer Sun Haoxi, explored the direct impact on social space through urban planning and architecture in China’s “Silicon Valley” located at Beijing’s 5th Ring Road.
Li Pengfei received his Ph.D. in Social & Environmental Psychology from The Graduate Center, City University of New York (CUNY) in 2017. He had taught Introduction to Psychology, Statistics, Social Science Research Methods, Urban History, Urban Life, and Urban Politics from 2011 to 2018 in the CUNY system. From 2018 to 2021, he held a research position in the Department of Urban Planning & Design at The University of Hong Kong. Currently, he is an assistant professor in the Cultural Studies Department at Shanghai University, with research interests focusing on urban governance and urban life. Pengfei’s current research projects explore the interaction between (sub)urban expansion and urban middle-class residents’ practices and lifestyles in contemporary China, with a core concern about the social consequences of China’s increasingly homogeneous and even hegemonic urban reality, i.e. a high-rise urban China composed of multiple Corbusian “towers-in-a-park.”
Wang Jiani is an urban researcher, visual artist and writer based in Beijing. Wu Kaifeng is an architect and visual and installation artist. Their works touch upon the body-space dynamic, the power relationships and human conditions in urban and cyber space, material culture, and cultural geography at large.
Chen Si’an is a writer, theatre director, playwright, and literary translator. Born in April 1986, she now works and lives in Beijing, China. She is the founder and Artistic Director of the Sound and Fury Play Reading Festival and executive Editor of the Wings Poetry. She has written four collections of short stories and ten plays. Her plays were performed at the Royal Court Theatre, Edinburgh International Festival, National Theatre Company of China, Shanghai Dramatic Arts Center, Goethe-Institut Beijing, Taiwan and mainland China Studio Theatre Art Festival, Beijing International Fringe Festival, etc.
The participation at this event is open to everyone, who registers prior to the event: Registration