Foreword excerpted for the book Shenzhen Dizziness, text by Zhong Gang.
Shenzhen is a city whose multidimensionality deserves to be contemplated and researched. In this heterogenous metropolis where a mixture of gambling style governance and global economy unite as one, time and space expand and collapse. All-encompassing and under the pressure of constant growth, the city evolves and lays bare its structures to the observer.
Unmistakably, the developments of the arts could not evade the “need-for-speed” model that is deeply rooted in the logic of the city. Fast paced economic growth, outsourced production, duplication, air freight and maritime transportation, along with the other sequelae investigated in this book, all emerge as the symptoms of the last 30 years of progress.
Looking at Shenzhen from a political and economical standpoint, we can consider it as being “particular”. We can also examine how this “particularity” contributed to boost the city’s mode of development from an art perspective. Shenzhen isn’t your typical art metropolis in comparison to well-established, or say, traditional cultural hubs: it is relentlessly growing and mutating. With the influence of the heavily promoted Hong Kong Art Basel and its strong market stimulation, Shenzhen itself has become a burgeoning art market. Once tranquil, then suddenly frantic under the presence of the art biennale, and then shifting again towards more diversified ways of art making, Shenzhen’s artistic production has been gradually shinning overseas while nevertheless being modeled and carried away by capital.
This young metropolis is at once concerned but also impatient to see how development in the arts will unfold in the future. Individuals find themselves under the spell of an external force that leaves them in a state of dizziness. Speed and efficiency are two clear factors that helped elaborate a certain discourse within Shenzhen’s art circles: a dragging force that pulls artists in, animated by the subjects of the said discourse: creation and duplication, speed and pace, freedom and regulation, present and future, etc. Shenzhen’s situation makes a good model and testing field for evolving art discourses, as its urgency to trace origins and discuss critical issues steadily increases.
Since its first installment, our “ARTDBL” (Da Bin Lou in Cantonese)* has, by means of organizing lectures, forums and interviews, consistently been sampling the coagulum that resulted from Shenzhen’s development and evolution in the arts. While at it, we obviously cannot separate ourselves from our own emotional attachment and our own consciousness of the city, but we can focus on the exploration of, or withdrawal from, this art development, and our failure to pursue a steady and meticulous observation of this phenomenon. Since March 2015, we have organized and shared a series of articles that constitute the following texts and essays you are about to read, and here they are published as a book under the umbrella of ARTDBL.
Counter to traditional museum publications, which often promote recent accomplishments, this book takes the seat of the observer, looking from the point of view of a Shenzhen local. It is neither a listing of success stories, nor a collection of fundamental critical discourses. Perhaps unwillingly, this book seeks different kinds of commonly acknowledged conclusions. We hope that within this angle of Shenzhen being a “particular city”, and at this moment in time, we can provide an archive that will serve as a proper account and explanation of “Shenzhen’s Dizziness”.
*Dabinlou 打边炉 is a Cantonese way to express “eat hot pot”. It is pronounced Da Bian Lu 打边炉 in Mandarin.
“Shenzhen Dizziness”, editor: Zhong Gang, size: 11.4× 18 cm, page: 252 b&w + 32 color, publish by: Art DBL, 2019.
《深圳眩晕》主编：钟刚，尺寸：11.4× 18 厘米，页数：252页黑白，32页全彩，出版：打边炉。