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Shenzhen/Hong Kong: Enclaves, Edges, and Experiments

Thu, Apr 20, 2017    6:30pm

Jonathan Bach and Joshua Bolchover in conversation with Adam Frampton and Ou Ning on the occasion of the publication of: Learning from Shenzhen: China’s Post-Mao Experiment from Special Zone to Model City (edited by Mary Ann O’Donnell, Winnie Wong, & Jonathan Bach) and Border Ecologies: Hong Kong’s Mainland Frontier (edited by Joshua Bolchover & Peter Hasdell).

Shenzhen—the special economic zone turned metropolis with over 20 million inhabitants—is a product of spatial exception. Once defined by its borders south to Hong Kong and north to the rest of the mainland, today the function and form of borders is changing, and with it notions of the urban and rural. This special double book talk explores how borders function as buffers, eco-systems, and sites for the production of value and values. It looks at the “Frontier Closed Area” along the Hong Kong-Shenzhen colonial-era border, at urban villages in Shenzhen, and the liminal spaces that create the city. Drawing from ethnography, urban ecology, design, architecture, and cultural history, the two books under discussion explore the spatial and temporal intricacies of the contemporary city.


Jonathan Bach is Chair of the interdisciplinary Global Studies undergraduate program and Associate Professor of International Affairs at The New School in New York. His current work concerns post-socialist transition in Germany and China and how these societies appropriate their past. Bach draws from anthropology, sociology and political science to explore how received notions of sovereignty, space and identity are reformulated through micro-level practices. He has also written on information technology and organizational change, labor migration and citizenship, and political theory. Bach is the author of What Remains: Everyday Encounters with the Socialist Past in Germany (Columbia University Press, forthcoming 2017), co-editor of Learning from Shenzhen: China’s Post-Mao Experiment from Special Zone to Model City (University of Chicago Press, 2017) and author of Between Sovereignty and Integration: German Foreign Policy and National Identity after 1989 (St. Martin’s Press).

Joshua Bolchover is an Adjunct Professor at Columbia GSAPP and Associate Professor at The University of Hong Kong. His current research focuses on the complex urban-rural ecology of cities. He set up Rural Urban Framework with John Lin in 2005 with the remit to create a not-for-profit agency as a platform for design and research. Their projects have been internationally exhibited at the Venice Biennale 2016, the Design Museum London 2016, and The Chicago Biennale 2015. RUF’s work has been awarded the RIBA International Emerging Architect Award 2016 for the Angdong Hospital, The Curry Stone Design Prize 2015, The Ralph Erskine Prize 2014 and has received third place commendations for the Architectural Review’s Healthcare and Schools Award. Joshua’s recent publications include Border Ecologies: Hong Kong’s Mainland Frontier, Birkhauser, 2016, Designing the Rural: A Global Countryside in Flux, Architectural Design 2016, and Rural Urban Framework: Transforming the Chinese Countryside, Birkhauser 2013.

Adam Snow Frampton is an Adjunct Assistant Professor at Columbia GSAPP and the Principal of Only If, a New York City- based design practice for architecture and urbanism. He previously worked as an Associate at the Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA) in Rotterdam and Hong Kong. His independent research on Hong Kong urbanism has been published as the co- authored Cities Without Ground: A Hong Kong Guidebook. His research and design projects have also been exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art, the 12th and 14th Venice Biennale of Architecture, Storefront for Art and Architecture, the Center for Architecture, and the Van Alen Institute. He holds a Masters in Architecture from Princeton University School of Architecture and a Bachelors of Environmental Design Summa cum Laude from the University of Colorado Boulder.

Ou Ning is visiting faculty at Columbia GSAPP and artist, activist, curator, filmmaker, and writer from China. As an artist and filmmaker, he is known for the urban research and documentary projects such as San Yuan Li (2003), commissioned by the 50th Venice Art Biennale; Meishi Street (2006), commissioned by the Kulturstiftung des Bundes and premiered at MoMA. As a curator, he initiated the biennial art and design exhibition Get It Louder (2005, 2007, 2010), and curated sound installations at Battersea Power Station in London, commissioned by Serpentine Gallery (2006); 2009 Shenzhen & Hong Kong Bi-city Biennale of Urbanism and Architecture (chief curator); and 2011 Chengdu Biennale (co-curator). As a writer and editor, his books include New Sound of Beijing (1997), Odyssey: Architecture and Literature (2009), and his literary bimonthly journal Chutzpah! (2011-2013).

Organized by Columbia GSAPP.