Documenting the Danwei

“ A whole history remains to be written of space – which would at the same time be the history of powers – from the great strategies of geo-politics to the tactics of the habitat… Anchorage in a space is an economico-political form that needs to be studied in detail.”

Michel Foucault The Eye of Power (1977)

Danwei Street with plants and washing

IUD image. Guangzhou, China: 2014

As part of our long term project exploring the surviving remains of  ‘socialist sites’ IUD have been documenting the residential areas of the Chinese danwei in Guangzhou’s Haizhu district.

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West of the Tracks (Tie Xi Qu)

Wang Bing’s immersive nine hour documentary epic explores the changing world of China between 1999 to 2001. Set in the North-East of the country in Shenyang, his observational style records the physical and social textures of the regions heavy industry in its final stages before closure through bankruptcy.

Divided into three sections (Rust, Remnants and Rails) the documentary uses a ‘direct cinema’ approach to faithfully witness the people caught up in the massive changes to their work and homes as a consequence of reform era changes to the former planned market economy. See Jie Li’s excellent article for a further analysis of the film’s context and cinematic style West of the Tracks – Salvaging the Rubble of Utopia.

West-of-the-tracks

West of the Tracks (2002)

Architectures of Displacement – Salford, UK & Guangzhou, China – Temporary Research Space

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IUD archive image. Close up from a council neighbourhood being cleared for private homes. Salford, UK: 2012.

Currently IUD is exhibiting in The Fire and the Rose curated by Tongyu Zhou as part of the Asia Triennial 14. The work is located in the Vertical Gallery, 3rd Floor, Benzie Building , Manchester School of Art at Manchester Metropolitan University. We have created a Temporary Research Space, an invitation to spend time exploring selected materials from our archive, derived from fieldwork and other research in Salford, UK and Guangzhou, China. Also included are a small sample of related critical and fieldwork texts. The show is on until November 28th.

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Spatial justice and Urban De(re)generation

“Just as none of us are beyond geography, none of us is completely free from the struggle over geography. That struggle is complex and interesting because it is not only about soldiers and cannons but also about ideas, about forms, about images and imaginings.” Edward Said, Culture & Imperialism

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IUD Archive Image. Uneven Development research project. Public space next to a residential neighbourhood being cleared and gentrified with luxury high rise flats. Guangzhou, China: 2013.

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The Poetry of the Street – The Film and Flanerie of Jem Cohen

When I was in my twenties two of my great loves were documentary photography and experimental film. Seeing Jem Cohen’s work Lost Book Found (1996) made me realise how the two could come together in a heady mix. Cohen wanders like a street photographer gathering Super-8 and 16mm film material through his direct observation of the urban world around him. Lost Book Found is his modern day homage to Benjamin’s Arcades Project relocated to New York. It attempts to find another layer of meaning to the city through its traces, fragments and neglected spaces. The narrative alternates between the city’s hard streets and a hidden reality beneath the kaleidoscopic distractions and phantasmagoria of its capitalist space.

Jem-Cohen

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