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25/03/2013Shenzhen Biennale shifts background to foreground

Source: Urbanism\Architecture Bi-City Biennale Shenzhen

25 Mar 2013
by Urbanism\Architecture Bi-City Biennale Shenzhen

The Organizing Committee of Shenzhen Biennale of Urbanism\Architecture held the first press conference of 2013 Bi-City Biennale of Urbanism\Architecture (Shenzhen) [abbreviated as “UABB(SZ)”; formerly “Shenzhen & HongKong Bi-city Biennale of Urbanism\Architecture”]. Deputy Secretary-general of Shenzhen Municipal Government Xu Chongguang, Deputy Director of Urban Planning, Land and Resources Commission of Shenzhen Municipality Xue Feng, representatives of the Organizing Committee, supporting organizations and the Curatorial Teams of 5th UABB(SZ) attended the conference. It officially publicized that this biennale will be delivered by two curatorial teams, consisting of Team Ole Bouman and Team Li Xiangning + Jeffrey Johnson. Ole Bouman will act as Curator, Creative Director. Meanwhile, Li Xiangning + Jeffrey Johnson will be the Curators, Academic Directors. The 5th edition of UABB(SZ) will open in Shekou, Shenzhen at the 6 December 2013. The Committee is very much looking forward to the cooperation and work of these two top teams. It will be the first time that the UABB(SZ) uses this curatorial framework.

Manifesto/Prospective Venue and Documentary/Retrospective Venue

Shekou is an industrial zone in Nanshan District of Shenzhen, which is the experimental field of reform and opening-up in China. The main venues are the former Guangdong Float Glass Factory (Venue A) and the Old Warehouse at Shekou Ferry Terminal (Venue B) that both belong to China Merchants Shekou Industrial Zone Co., Ltd , they will be linked by public transportation and greenways. The former Guangdong Float Glass Factory is located in the area of Shekou Ferry Terminal. Founded in July of 1987, it was one of the largest float glass factories in China, and had been awarded with Lu Ban Prize of China Constructional Projects in 1988. Since 2009, it has halted production. The Old Warehouse at Shekou Ferry Terminal was initially used as the general cargo storage. Because of the advantageous geographical location, it was once renovated into a Customs Declaration Hall. However, the Hall has been moved away in the end of 2010, resulting in the non-occupation of the Old Warehouse. The Curator, Creative Director, Ole Bouman, will be in charge of Venue A, the Manifesto/Prospective Venue, while the Curators, Academic Directors, Li & Johnson, will present Venue B, the Documentary/Retrospective Venue.

Shifting Its Main Venue from Background into Foreground

The theme of the 5th UABB is URBAN BORDER and both of the curatorial teams will curate centered in this theme. The Curator, Creative Director, Dutch architecture professional Ole Bouman and his team state that today, Shenzhen is no longer just the Economic Special Zone as we know it. It is sparked to become a Cultural Special Zone: from a border city benefiting from production and distribution, it now is ready for transition into a place for ideas and knowledge, for creativity and wit. On the cusp of exploring the unknowns and new “urban border”, Shenzhen has been actually looking for and sometimes creating new values constantly. Therefore, they hold the opinion that 2013 UABB(SZ) should follow Shenzhen’s creating spirit that it is neither one to only please an audience, nor a vehicle for content — it needs to make its vehicle into content. It is a biennale shifting its main venue from background into foreground. Shekou, the venue of this biennale that has been found is at where Shenzhen borders the rest of the world. It is the place where the modernization of Shenzhen began some 30 years ago, and which did its fair share to modernize China. Ole Bouman Team expects to rely on the existing qualities of this place, identifying them, highlighting them, dramatizing them and, by doing so, begin a new practice of social and urban renewal.

A Single “Documentary” through Multiple Historical Readings of “Cities”

As the Curators, Academic Directors, Chinese scholar Li Xiangning and Jeffrey Johnson who comes from the United States propose to reassert the importance of knowledge and research in architectural and urban design discourse. They will explore the “border” of the contemporary city from a historical perspective, so their exhibition could be conceived as a single “documentary” through multiple historical readings of “cities”. With the flattening of the world through globalization, we are witnessing complex shifts in “border” conditions throughout the urban world. Considering this, Li Xiangning + Jeffrey Johnson team intends to provoke a possible future by reading, or misreading, the past, through the documentation and dissemination of a vast collection of urban images, projects, experiments and texts. They hope that by revealing these through multiple readings and interpretations, a future “border” condition can be defined that will stimulate creative and inspiring experiments that promote vital methods of interaction and communication. They will invite a multi-disciplinary group of participants made up of architects, urbanists, sociologists, artists, and photographers.

2013 UABB(SZ): pleasant surprises and endless creativities 

Since 2005, UABB has been consciously developed into a strategy that mediates between cities, intervening the transformations of their surrounding areas. It revitalizes the urban space and promotes the development of “City of Design” and “City of Innovation”. Joined by adjacent city Hong Kong in 2007, the Bi-City Biennale of Urbanism\Architecture has gradually created a new paradigm that concerns the synchronous interaction of cultural development, urban evolution and interregional cooperation. The unique presentation and profound connotation of the UABB have been an important cultural scenery line in Shenzhen and Hong Kong. At present, 2013 UABB(SZ) is at the preparing stage. With new curatorial framework and new venues, the upcoming event will bring pleasant surprises and endless creativities to the world and to all of its audiences!

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