Sponge Gourd Collective

Sponge Gourd Collective (Daphne XU, Diane Zhou, Beatrix Chu), explore the affective dimensions of urban transformation in contemporary China.

Since 2016, we have worked together as an art and research collective called Sponge Gourd Collective, exploring the affective dimensions of urban transformation in contemporary China. Our work engages the intersection of memory and imagination with shifting senses of place, time, and identity. As members of the Chinese diaspora, we aim to complicate popular conceptions of China by exploring and deconstructing Chinese futurities.  

Nothing Ever Happens Here | 03 minutes 18 seconds | HD | 2018

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Described Video below

Nothing Ever Happens Here creates collages in physical space in various sites along new and proposed High Speed Rail routes in Jing-Jin-Ji, the proposed megaregion that will encompass Beijing, Tianjin, and Hebei. We carried with us a portable green screen that we inserted into various landscapes as a speculative window. 

The green screen becomes an act of embodied collaging, which invites passers-by and interview subjects to enter the speculative space it creates, and to consider its possibilities. It asks viewers to project their imagined futures onto varied places and scenes, including construction workers on their lunch break in Handan, and a local resident of Xiongan New Area carrying her child in front of a facility that produces materials for the new high speed rail station, Xiongan Station. 
 

The 2016-2035 Beijing Master Plan centers the HSR as the catalyst of a regional development strategy that combines Beijing and its two neighboring provinces, Tianjin and Hebei, into one megaregion, Jing-Jin-Ji. In November 2016, China approved $36 billion to build 700 miles of rail within Jing-Jin-Ji before 2020. Starting in 2018, we began attempting to outrun Beijing by following the construction of high-speed rail lines and stations across Jing-Jin-Ji. Our hope was to grasp urban transformation as it occurred, and to investigate the politics and poetics of Chinese high-speed rail infrastructure as it developed.