Diary: 1/20000

Diary: 1/20000, Jianyong(Coca) Dai, 2014
May 2014: at the Anatomy Museum, King’s College, London for the Chinese Visual Festival

This exhibition was invited to join in the The Gallery Project’s 2nd exhibition season. The Gallery is a multimedia art project created by Chinese artist Xin Wang in 2013. It is part of the Chinese Visual Festival 2014, which ran from 7 – 18 May at King’s College London and consisted of 16 exhibitions over 10 days, with each exhibition lasting five hours.

This event took place in the prosperous metropolitan city of Shanghai. After China’s reform, its cities started to transform rapidly. In the 1990s, China moved into an era that involved large-scale urban expansion and the transformation of old cities. However after brand new high-density residential buildings were developed, many Chinese families faced the demolition of their properties and were, subsequently, powerless. Without legal support, their most basic human rights would be infringed and residents who went against these plans have often been described as ‘greedy as wolves’. The demolition plan started with a row of 2,000 houses in the Changbai Newtown, where 20,000 families lived. In 2010 house No. 119 was to be demolished, where six people spanning three generations of Jianyong (Coca) Dai’s family have lived. This exhibition is a case study of the issues relating to the policy of demolition in China’s big cities, and includes 64 photographs taken since 2001, a fifteen minute video-work and an audio diary. For Dai, demolition has not only brought about a conflict of interests amongst the residents and demolition companies (or the government), but also stands for the transformation and conflict of experiences between family members.

Jianyong Dai’s grandmother owns a 24 m² flat at Chang Bai Newtown, metropolitan Shanghai. This flat is a “gong zu fang” (公租房), not belonging to its tenants. As factory built flats they are assigned to employees for their benefit. Some 20,000 families that lived in this area of Shanghai share this situation. Dai’s family sent their grandmother to a care home where she died peacefully. Since then, the flat has remained closed, cleaned sometimes by Dai’s aunt. However, three people have their “hu kou” (户口)- registered residences – bound with the place, including Dai’s mother, aunt and Dai himself. When the demolition plan of Chang Bai Newtown was announced, the argument over compensation broke the peacefulness surrounding this old flat.

This exhibition is a personal documentation of Dai. He sued the local Housing Authority for how many flats his family should have. When his aunt moved in and claimed, using a legal loophole, as the only rightful tenant of the flat, he also moved in the flat. Later, when his cousin forced him to move out they got into a fight. He has talked with neighbours, taken photos and made videos about the demolition and the changes to the city he lives in. Through his eyes, we can see what a home means to a Chinese family.

戴建勇的外祖母在大都会上海的⻓白新村拥有一间24平方米的公寓。这套公寓是所谓的“公 租房”,住户没有产权。当年,外祖父母工作的工厂建起来给职工租住,一直保留了下来。 周围20000户都是差不多的情况。外祖父去世后,戴的家人共同决定把外祖母被送到敬老 院,老人家前几年平静的去世了。公寓没了人烟,只是戴的姨妈偶尔去打扫一下。但是,戴 的姨妈、妈妈还有他自己的户口还落在公寓的地址上。当⻓白新村要拆䥆的消息一传出来, 家里䎔于拆䥆赔偿的争论打破了公寓近几年的平静。 这个展览呈现的是戴的个人纪录。他代表家人和拆䥆办就他家应该分多少房打官司。他在姨 妈搬入公寓并钻法律漏洞更改承租人姓名后,也携家带口搬进小屋。他在表弟轰他出門时把 表弟打了个头破血流。他和邻居交谈,拍照片,䫖䫖地把拆䥆和上海的改变录了下来。通过 他的双眼,我们可以试着感受下一套公寓房对一个中国家庭意味着什么。

Artist bio:
Jianyong Dai was born in Ziyuan, Jiangxi Province. He is currently based in Shanghai. He graduated from the College of Fine Art, Shanghai University with a degree in Advertising Design. He was funded by the China Pingyao International Photography Festival in 2012, nominated for the Three Shadows Photography Award in 2013. His photographs have been exhibited in Finland, German, South Korea and China.

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