The Bishan Project: 2010-2016
Colloquium: Center for Chinese Studies | April 7 | 4-6 p.m. | 180 Doe Library
Ou Ning, Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation, Columbia University in the City of New York
Weihong Bao, East Asian Languages and Cultures; Film Studies
The Bishan Project was not just an art project. It started out from wanting to address those imbalances between cities and the countryside that had manifested grim realities such as the deterioration of agricultural industries, rural villages, and farm laborer empowerment, and were the direct result of excessive urbanization. The project relied on the accumulated experience of the rural reconstruction movement led by Chinese intellectuals since the Republican Era, as well as the cultural practices of various rural regions in Asia. Adopting the intellectual resources of China's traditional agricultural industry and rural philosophies, as well as leftist or even anarchist ideas, Bishan Project aimed to combat the encroachments of globalization and neoliberalism, and by using art and culture as the first point of entry, it ultimately hoped to influence politics and economics in rural areas. Its interests lied in exploring the economics of rural life, establishing relationships between the city and countryside based on mutual sustenance, promoting labor practices based on mutual aid and exchange, establishing a social structure based on horizontal power, adopting consensus-based decision making, applying direct action, reviving the tradition of autonomy in China's rural areas, and transforming Utopian ideals into realpolitik.