July 20, 2021 - Guangdong Times Museum - Uselessness as Usage
July 20, 2021

Guangdong Times Museum

Courtesy of Guangdong Times Museum.

Uselessness as Usage
Operation Delta #4: Architects in Action
July 17–August 29, 2021

Guangdong Times Museum
Times Rose Garden III
Huang Bian Bei Road, Bai Yun Avenue North
510095 Guangzhou
Hours: Tuesday–Sunday 10am–6pm

T +86 20 2627 2363

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Chief curator: Hou Hanru
Associate curators: Liang Jianhua, Zhou Zheng
Participating architects: Atelier Bow-Wow + Furii Studio +  Yasushi Yamaguchi, Didier Fiúza Faustino, O-office Architects
Participating artists: Grass Stage, Huang Xiaopeng, Ange Kayifa, Vanissa Law, Lei Lijie, NZTT Sewing Co-op X Display Distribute, Stickyline, Zhang Peili

Ever since the Pearl River Delta was integrated into globalization, it has set off waves of rapid urbanization and radical lifestyle transformations. The Guangdong Times Museum is an institution born in such context. After more than a decade of growth and experimentation, now is the time to explore and apprehend the significance of this unique historical change. Moreover, the present is also a critical moment to envision what comes next, which allows us to imagine other forms of experiments: to open up a kind of possibility for the “impractical” and to explore ideas and practices of the “useless”.

In light of this, we have invited three groups of architects from France, Japan, and Guangzhou, all of whom will jointly initiate a design-related project in the Pearl River Delta. It will be an ongoing exhibition that ultimately aims to provoke new modes of communication, dialogical behaviors, and creations of social and cultural communities.

In recent years, the Pearl River Delta has transformed from an area known for relatively rudimentary manufacturing industries, or “World Factory,” to a technological hub frequently referred to as the “Silicon Valley of China,” resulting in a new model of urban development. Following the rubric of the Belt and Road Initiative, the Pearl River Delta has been redefined as the “Greater Bay Area,” thus triggering a profound change in China’s socioeconomic strategy and instigating new frictions and interactions with the outside world. The onslaught of the pandemic has also compounded the ebb and flow of the world’s manufacturing sectors, raising new difficulties and contradictions, as well as stimulating imaginations and innovations with regards to post-pandemic possibilities.

In a situation where international travel has not been possible for the past year, the participants of the project have continued to collaborate regularly online, conducting continual experiments by means of a surrealist game of exquisite corpse. They have produced shared yet individualized architectural designs brought together in a dynamic and ever-expanding exhibition. They have deeply considered the interchanges between “useful” and “useless,” as well as the paradoxes arising from social distance and contact, in order to redefine new relationships and physical-psychological structures between persons and the interactions between human and objects. Concurrently, “smart working” and other pandemic contingency measures have also transformed tangible labor into intangible labor, forcing many subjects into new and unforeseen relationships. The cultural pluralism and tolerance formed and accepted under a certain “internal globalization” have also come under attack. Restrictions and surveillance stimulate a desire for freedom and resistance; repression triggers a more extreme quest for pleasure. Among others, such things supply the most valuable materials and energy for new creativity.

At the same time, this exhibition ultimately intends to provide a platform of expression for a public interested in dreaming and experimenting with various activities deemed both “useless” and worthwhile, from everyday actions to theatrical exercises, from perseverance to daydreaming. Therefore, we have invited a number of artists, designers, and theater groups from home and abroad to participate in the exhibition, echoing the current exhibition at the Times Art Center Berlin, in order to realize this intention in energetic and diverse forms. In other words, the exhibition will open up a new platform for the Times Museum to further broaden and deepen its important mission as an active creator of public life in the community.

Guangdong Times Museum
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