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Title: Coming together and apart in Heiqiao Village, Beijing : urban life, artistic practices, and the making of social worlds
Author: McKenzie, Murray Hugh
ISNI:       0000 0004 8508 4660
Awarding Body: UCL (University College London)
Current Institution: University College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2020
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This thesis examines the relationship between urban life in contemporary Beijing and practices of social and relational art. It explores how artists have adapted districts in Beijing's fractured peripheries, come together in search of stability and the benefits of social intersection, and used artistic practices incorporating collaboration and social relationality among the various operations by which they have configured this urban social space. The thesis argues that art has variously enabled them to consolidate energies, resources and potentials; to accommodate social difference and plurality; and to mitigate the exclusions and withdrawals of others. It is through these accumulated capacities that Beijing's artists have been able to imaginatively remake the urban worlds in which they dwell, claim positions within these worlds, and suggest how they could be ordered differently. The thesis uses interview-based, visual, and ethnographic methods to focus on the coalescence, achievements, and dispersal of an artist settlement in Beijing's Heiqiao Village between 2006 and 2017. This is the first in-depth historical account of this group of artists, who worked at the leading edge of contemporary Chinese art during this period, as evidenced by Heiqiao Night Away, a pioneering collective project among several described in this thesis. The thesis puts this account into dialogue with ideas, concerns, and methodologies rooted in cultural geography and urban studies, helping to engineer a generative confluence of disciplines to benefit understandings of cities and art alike. By asking questions prompted by AbdouMaliq Simone's portrayals of the creative and improvisational urbanisms of the Global South, and by projecting these enquiries through the post- political and aesthetic theses of Chantal Mouffe and Jacques Rancière, this thesis develops theoretically informed and spatially attuned insights into Henri Lefebvre's enigmatic assertion that radical futures will entail a convergence of artistic and urban praxis.
Supervisor: Harris, A. ; Bressey, C. Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available