»Traces: Xi’an« ist auf der Suche nach Spuren lokaler Identitäten im öffentlichen Raum Xi’ans – einer Stadt zwischen chinesischer Tradition, industriellem Erbe und neuer Kreativwirtschaft. Aber was bedeutet lokal überhaupt?
“Would you be willing to answer a few questions for the 5th anniversary of CITYMAKERS?” asked Katja Hellkötter CITYMAKERS-friend Song Qun from Xian in a wechat message. 3 Days later, the answers were there.
Song Qun, you were with us 5 years ago at the kick-off of the CITYMAKERS Network in Berlin and shared with us your inspirational works. And 2 years ago you hosted a group of city maker friends in Xian for an informal cultural dialogue. We would like to catch up with you. First of all: What work/project are you currently busy with?
It seems that I have been quite busy lately. One of the important projects is the renovation of an old factory covering about 30,000 square meters. My team and I are in charge of the entire project planning. For the design we have invited the famous architect Mr. Liang Jingyu. The implementation has already started, and we expect to open to the public by the end of this year. This old factory has a history of over 70 years, it used to produce towels, but was shut down many years ago. The buildings resemble Bauhaus architecture. After the renovation it will be a new kind of community center, including a bookstore, a market, a café, retail shops and restaurants as well as an innovative flower market. Hopefully the neighbors from the surrounding compounds will enjoy this mix of old and new.
You have created the space “Bendi 本地- Local Life” that is a space for art and culture, and contemporary presentation of “Urban Memory”, a place for exchange. What is currently happening in space? Any projects you could do at all this year, of if not this year, what was your last bigger project you can share with us? And are you actually continuously collecting items?
Localand is an urban cultural public space I founded in Xi’an in 2018. It covers an area of approximately 3,000 sqm with a small community museum, a café, restaurants, retail space and a small concert hall. Localand consists of 7 small individual buildings that form an entity in a bustling shopping district that merges with an open community. It is a project that got started in 2012 and developed from an inner urban village in combination with new structures. My team and I were responsible for the whole planning process. Localand is located in the heart of the neighborhood and has become an interesting space that connects old and new residents, business owners and consumers as well as visitors from outside. Over the years, we’ve organized a lot of city-themed exhibitions and various events connecting artists and designers from different cities like Taipei, Tokyo, Shanghai, Hong Kong, etc. Although it has been a lot of work and we spent a lot of time on it, but luckily Localand is very popular among young people, so we’re very happy. Chengdu’s Localand is about 4,500 sqm and is expected to open by the end of the year.
We constantly collect objects of daily use from all kinds of people, as well as the stories behind these objects, and we film people while they recount the stories of these objects. That is the project “Memory of the City 1000+” that has been going for three years and shall be continued.
You are also the publisher of the magazine “bendi 本地 ” – What have been the topics this year?
The book that was supposed to be published this year was about two Japanese photographers who photographed China in the 1980s, Mr. Shimao Shinzo, 71, and his wife, Shoda Tokuko, 80. They began traveling to China in 1981, visited many cities, and have since come back to China many times. They have published more than a dozen books about daily life in China in Japan. In 2018, we had invited these two artists to Xi’an to participate in a small exhibition in the Our Xi’an City Image Museum and in a forum on urban memory and revival. I also made a special trip to Tokyo to visit them and to discuss the book publication and exhibition in their home. Unfortunately, due to the situation of the epidemic in Tokyo, this work has been interrupted and the publishing and exhibition project may be delayed until next year. There were many plans for this year which had to be postponed, and this one is one of those I regret the most.
What is your personal strongest memory of the city of Berlin or of your experience here? Did the visit of Berlin eventually even influence your work?
The memories of Berlin are unique. Among the many museums in Berlin, the one that impressed me most is the Jewish Museum. Human faces cast from iron, piled up on the floor of the exhibition hall, which one has to step on in order to walk across, make a loud sound of iron against iron as one walks across, like the sound of shackles or chains, and to this day I can’t forget those sounds. The openness of Berliners towards the history of their city is admirable, and I learned a lot from the fact that each museum is writing the history of the city in its own way.
Berlin is a fascinating city, full of an artistic atmosphere. The CITYMAKERS meeting in Berlin was very well organized. We discussed many relevant topics and I made some new friends, some of whom I later met again in China. There is even a German friend who accepted my invitation to participate in our project in China, so this experience was really interesting.
Any dream or project vision that is on your mind for next year/ the future?
We hope to find a place in the future that is large enough to move our Urban Memory Museum there so that we can make longer term plans. It should be a place with traces of the passing of time or a historical memory. We’ve been looking for such a place for some time and hope that we can realize this goal in the future.
If you could come back to Berlin and Europe again, what joint project what you like to realize?
I would love to have the opportunity to be involved in some project in Berlin. That would be very challenging and interesting. I also hope to be able to bring the urban memory and urban renewal projects that we did in China to Berlin, maybe in the form of an exhibition or as an event, so that the two cities can make some kind of connection on the non-official level and promote mutual understanding.
Lastly I would like to add that I am very happy to be a member and participant of the CITYMAKERS’ network, I would like to thank the Robert Bosch Foundation and the founder of CITYMAKERS China – Germany, Katja. It is a very interesting platform for sharing and exchanging and I am looking forward to participating in the future. Thank you!
Welcome to Berlin again!
Übersetzung: Maja Linnemann
About Song Qun
SONG Qun, born in 1970, comes from Xi‘an. As an artist and idea generator, he has been working in the fields of architecture, art, design and the creative industry for many years. He is the founder and publisher of the magazine “local 本地” and “MOMADA” and collects and archives photos, videos and texts on the city’s history. In his endeavor to preserve the city’s cultural memory, the focus is on ordinary citizens, their everyday lives and their world of experience. SONG Qun is also practically involved in urban development and has advised the development of several large, commercial urban residential and commercial buildings. He has also curated the “Reading Changes the City” series of around 300 events, including exhibitions, workshops and demonstrations. These have become an influential hallmark of cultural life in Xi’an. His work “Something about Food” was exhibited at the 15th International Architecture Biennale in Venice in 2016. He has been teaching at the Shaanxi Normal University Art Academy since 1992.
艺术家，出版⼈，设计师，策划⼈。2007年创办《本地》书系，⼀直以⺠间⻆度记录 ⻄安的本⼟⽂化与城市记忆。2011年以来，以“艺术介⼊城市”⽅式，发起多个融合在 地⽂化与艺术的城市⽂化项⽬，持续进⾏城市变迁与发展研究，并深度进⾏城市更新 实践，创建了⼀系列“本地⽂化与艺术”主题的城市⽂化公共空间，主持策划与设计过多个旧城改造与⽂创园区项⽬。2016年，受邀参加第 15 届威尼斯国际建筑双年展(中国家馆) ，2017年创办中国第⼀个城市记忆主题博物馆-⻄安市城市记忆博物馆。2019年创办⻄安市城市影像博物馆，从事与城市相关的影像⽂献及图像研究/展览。曾获 2019“中国最美的书”，《中国摄影》图书榜“年度摄影集”以及2018 年⾹港设计师协会“环球设计⼤奖”，意⼤利A‘Design设计奖, 德国红点（RedDot), DFA design for Asia Awards 2019（亚洲设计影响⼒）等⼀系列国际奖项。