The Archive of a Collective Future resists the erosion of collective cultural memory and practices in Manhattan’s Chinatown. As the result of an aging and changing population, the traditions and relationships that have enabled this neighborhood to create a unique identity are at risk of fading away. As old businesses pass to newer generations, owners must negotiate between their passions and a nostalgic Orientalized image.
A joint archive and workshop draw from Chinatown’s unique identity to think about the future by continuously evaluating the neighborhood’s relationships to the rest of NYC and Chinese culture. The archive records Chinatown’s past through a series of temporary and permanent storage and display spaces. Movable storage panels open clearings throughout the archive; workshop and gathering spaces draw inspiration and resources from the archive while enabling users to re-contextualize artifacts and share skills among generations.
Collected artifacts and created objects are juxtaposed to form a speculative lens viewing the workshop spaces as well as the rest of NYC. A distributed network of display spaces overlaps with existing storefronts within and outside of the neighborhood, creating a means to evaluate the intersection of the current Chinatown and an emergent collective vision of the future.