Night"Ghost townIt was pitch black, and there was only the sound of cicadas all around. Several members of the "two-on-six" group were sitting around a small cluster of bonfires, chatting and drinking tea, behind them were rows of tall buildings standing silently.
The community has no residents, no lights, only buildings, all windows and doors are hollow and black, and a few lonely people look extremely small in the reinforced concrete forest.
People call “ghost towns” the clusters of unfinished buildings and abandoned new cities where few people live, and such scenes have been the daily routine of the “two on six” art group in the past five years.This artist team from Guangzhou has visited nearly XNUMX "ghost cities" across the country.
"Since there are no people living in a room, then let's go to sleep." Group member Huang Haiqing said that his undergraduate degree is environmental art, which is related to architecture, planning, and gardens. After graduation, he makes a living by painting, and finally Made works related to "Ghost City", "It may be destined in the dark."
Members of the "two on six" explored the scene of the "ghost town".
So the "two-on-six" group, with tents, toiletries, cooking utensils and quilts, walked into the "ghost town" to live, and they also carried out artistic creation activities and collected materials needed for artistic creation. The “two-on-six” group transplanted daily life into the “ghost town” and brought the ghost town into the eyes of the urban crowd through art exhibitions.Their art works are being exhibited recently at Taikoo Art Museum in Guangzhou.
In the process of searching for "ghost towns", the "two on six" team found that the reasons leading to the formation of ghost towns were different, some were problems in urban planning, some were developers running away with money, and some were the loss of population due to the decline of the regional economy. and many more.There are also differences between the north and the south. There are more "ghost cities" in the north and larger in scale than those in the south; of course, there are also different architectural styles, some are graceful and graceful in the southern waters, and some are luxurious in Europe.These southerners, in Ordos, Inner Mongolia, felt the rare snow temperature and were also bitten by mosquitoes in the humid wilderness of Jiangxi.
"Ghost town" is a constantly changing concept. With the development of regional economy, some "ghost towns" have been used again in the form of art and creative parks, and some have been passively revived due to high housing prices in nearby cities. More The "ghost city" has been uninhabited for ten or twenty years and is still sleeping today.Huang Haiqing, who also pays attention to the hollowing out of the countryside, believes that Hollow Village is another form of "ghost city", but the village has been lively and there are traces of human life.
In the past few years of searching for the "ghost town", the artists of the "two on six", from young college students just out of school, have entered the middle-aged stage of having to worry about mortgages and family chores.The number of members sought has also been declining, from the initial seven to six, and now there are only four.
They walked between the free and unsophisticated artistic life and the trivial daily life, but they still chose to set out from the city again and again to the "ghost cities" on the fringe where no one cares about them.
The following is the description of Huang Haiqing, the artist of the "two on six" team:
Exploring the "ghost town"
Of course, there are no ghosts in a "ghost town". According to some experts' definition, a "ghost town" refers to an area with a long-term occupancy rate of less than XNUMX%.During our search, the abandoned and unfinished building areas, including large-scale unfinished buildings, are collectively referred to as "ghost cities".
For example, in October 2020, the “two-on-six” team visited the Australian Villa in Jinkeng Village, Huangpu District, Guangzhou. It is known as the largest group of unfinished buildings in Guangzhou. It has been abandoned for 10 years and has a total of 22 buildings. In 292, I drove by here and saw many abandoned buildings from a distance, but I didn't get in at that time. There was no subway at that time. We went there to make works in October 2017. There is no change in the Australian villa, but the subway has been repaired.
The Australian Villa is a building built in the 90s. It covers an area of more than 1000 acres. The entire hill is densely covered with buildings. On the other side of the hill is a lake, with mountains and water, and a wide view. It was raised here more than 60 years ago. Sales boom.I learned from the news that, because the real estate developer's capital chain broke, it led to unfinished and a series of property rights issues. Of the more than two thousand owners, only XNUMX households had completed the delivery of the house.
In this deserted and overgrown community, life is very inconvenient, but there are still sporadic owners living, and they meet regularly and speak out for rights protection.When we went there last time, we ran into an old aunt who was growing vegetables and had a brief chat.These owners are now in their sixties and bought the houses here 30 or XNUMX years ago.Back in those days, they were able to buy a house when they were around XNUMX years old, which is also very impressive.Among them are medical staff, engineers, and businessmen. They are all old now, and the owner of the developer lives in it.
We have walked about sixty similar places, and in these "ghost cities", there are almost only ourselves and the silent desolation.We will meet people, but they are peaceful. They may think we are camping.Once we spent the night in a "ghost town" in Qingyuan, Guangdong. When we got up the next morning and just walked out of the tent, before waking up, we encountered a father taking his daughter for a walk in it, facing each other and calming each other. Nodded, and said nothing.Another time was in a "ghost town" in Feixi, Anhui. Some migrant workers lived in it and raised chickens and dogs. They seemed to treat it as their home.
Starting from Guangdong, we have almost all been to the "ghost cities" across the country and found some patterns.For example, the "ghost town" in the south is not as large as the north; the reasons for the formation of the "ghost town" are different, some are the developers of the real estate ran away, some are accidents or quality problems in the building, and some are disputes over the property rights of the house. , And some areas cannot keep people due to poor economic development...
At the beginning, we searched for information about "ghost towns" on the Internet. Later, as we did exhibitions, more and more people took the initiative to provide us with clues and information.Among these clues, some "ghost cities" have been abandoned for ten or twenty years, but have been resurrected in recent years. Some are just one or two unfinished buildings on a small scale.We need to filter out reliable clues that meet our selection criteria and explore some of these "ghost cities".
Sometimes, we may check a lot of information on a certain "ghost town", and on the way to search, we will look at other "ghost towns" around us, and we always find unexpected discoveries.For example, when driving from Guangzhou to Ordos, driving through the northwest, I saw many "ghost cities" in Shenmu, Shaanxi; on the way back to Guangzhou, passing through Jiangxi and Anhui, I saw many "ghost cities".We stayed in the place we accidentally discovered for a few days and continued to make works.
Therefore, the itinerary is generally unpredictable, and sometimes it is expected to end in 5 days and only come back 2 months after going out.We have been on the road or in "ghost towns". There is no electricity in some "ghost towns", so we need to go back to the city at regular intervals to replenish supplies and charge batteries and other equipment.The equipment is very simple, shooting supplies, cooking stoves, tent sleeping bags, batteries, medicines, lights, etc.For safety reasons, hoes and knives are also brought.
Sometimes when the security guards refused to let us in, it didn't matter if we were scolded, but once caught by the police, I really felt dangerous.That time we overloaded one person and encountered police inspections. I was in the driver's seat. When the police let me get out of the car, the electric baton on the door suddenly fell off, which was full of drama.The police became very vigilant, and suddenly three or four people gathered around, emptied the car, moved everything out for inspection, and found a hoe and a knife on the back of the car seat.
At the production site of "Re-Sculpture", Huang Haiqing is draped in cotton quilts from a ghost town soaked in cement.
In fact, these are nothing. What I am most worried about is the video recording in the device.Because we have been walking for more than a month, we always feel that what we are doing does not seem to be so upright, and even touches the interests of some people, for fear that the record will be deleted after being seen.
"Take it! "At the production site, members of "Two Hit Six" are copying a mosaic wall.
The police dragged me to the security room for more than an hour and kept asking how the electric baton came. Fortunately, we did not turn on our camera.After this incident, we all became vigilant. In order to avoid the risk of being checked again, let a member fly alone and bring all the information back to Guangdong.
"All are the surge and waste of resources"
After we enter a "ghost town", we will first find a place to stay, and then divide the work: someone recorded that someone set up a tent, boiled water, drinks tea and cooked dinner, went to make works, and took some pictures of the general situation.
Sometimes in the "ghost town" we also pick up some more special things, such as stones-which can reflect the characteristics of the landscape, shoes and towels that the migrant workers did not take away-can show their short life here, as well as building materials -Record the previous state of the "ghost town".
In the dark and empty "ghost town", we will also see some interesting concrete figures.For example, in the 90s, the most popular mosaic lattice tile wall for building repairs was because the house was unoccupied and covered with a large area of mildew or weeds, which lost its value prematurely.There are no residents in the rough house, only tropical ants crawling in a line on the concrete floor, becoming the only residents here.
What kind of artwork is formed?We collect all these things in art exhibitions. The most frequently used element is cement, because this is the most basic and strongest element for building a city, and people's time, years, and memories are all in it.
One time when the exhibition opened, I did a performance art on the spot. I lay on the ground, and the members put the quilt picked up from the "ghost town" into cement, and then put it on my body.I was motionless for more than four hours. I waited for the cement to solidify, then climbed out of it. The cement quilt was shaped.It is equivalent to using me as a building to build a city, but this person is gone and the city is empty.
In addition to the social problem of "ghost towns", we have also paid attention to shared bicycles and hollow villages, using artistic actions to let people think about the problems around them.
The art related to the discarded shared bicycles a few years ago actually coincides with the "ghost town".Shared bicycles and "ghost cities" are the surge of certain resources, which then lead to huge waste.At that time, we went to the abandoned water ditches around the city and saw that the bicycles discarded in the water ditches were all rotten, with flat tires or bent skeletons. It was totally unrecognizable and nobody wanted.We salvaged these shared bicycles, put them in a pre-prepared morgue bag, packaged them, and shipped them directly to the museum for display.
There are hundreds of shared bicycles in one bag.Put it in a mortuary bag, we turn it into a kind of life, hoping to arouse people's attention to waste of resources.
The "two on six" in the "ghost town" of Wuyuan.
The hollow village project is also derived from the "ghost town". The occupancy rate is less than 10%, which can be called a "ghost town". Some hollow villages are also applicable.But Hollow Village is different from a "ghost town". It was once inhabited by people, once brilliant and lively, but now it has fallen into decline with the changes of the times or due to certain development needs.
When I went to the "ghost town", the whole person was very cheerful. Although the "ghost town" was deserted but very clean, it felt very depressing to go to Hollow Village. There will be many traces of the past in the village, which were abandoned by others. feel.
For example, there is a hollow village on Dashan Island in Shunde, which is known as "the last village in the new city of Shunde."Above the village is an ultra-long viaduct that connects the two banks of the river. There are tall buildings around the village. This village has formed a low-lying island. The transportation to the outside is very inconvenient. It seems to be a victim of the times.
But I think whether it is a "ghost town" or a hollow village, it is possible to resurrect.For villages, the Chinese have always had the concept of falling leaves back to their roots. Many farmers who go out to work for decades may eventually return to the village where they grew up.For cities, some "ghost cities" survived because of housing prices. For example, Huizhou, which is close to Shenzhen in Guangdong, used to be lifeless in many places. Later, because housing prices in Shenzhen were too high, many young people couldn’t afford to buy a house in Shenzhen, so they went there. After buying a house in Huizhou, Huizhou slowly became alive.In recent years, many creative gardens of art categories have emerged, giving life to "ghost towns" in another form.
Generate "problem awareness" through art
Our “two-on-six” team got together in 2010 as early as 2015 and only officially named it in XNUMX.Why did you choose the name "two on six"?One is that the team members are all Cantonese natives and want to use Cantonese vocabulary to name the group; the other is that in the art circle at that time, we were very marginalized compared with mainstream and famous artists, and we borrowed this dialect. Taunt yourself as a small person.
But the hope for this is that the art of our "two-on-six" group is closely related to this era. Through the form of art, more people will be aware of social problems and generate problem awareness.
My parents are farmers and have their own land in the countryside. They built a house in their hometown in the 80s and have lived there until now. They themselves have no concept of buying a house.But in my generation, I majored in art, and after graduation, I painted and ate and drank every day.When I was young, I didn’t think about tomorrow after today, and there was no concept of saving. My parents were very wary of my life. They felt that I needed to buy a house as a kind of sustenance and support for life, whether it was marriage in the future or No money, at least I can live with a house.
So I bought a house early. Now it seems that my parents are far-sighted. But now I have many friends and classmates who are office workers. When the house price has risen many times, I have to provide this house for at least XNUMX years in my life. Some people couldn't get married because they didn't have a house, or they broke up with their girlfriends under the pressure of mother-in-law.
Although the work of the artist can keep us free, it also has some specific life problems.Initially, we had 7 members in the “two-on-six” period. During this period, some people kept leaving due to family pressure and life pressure. In 2016, the studio moved, and one member chose to return to his hometown. In 2018, the studio moved again, and two more members left Guangzhou.
The only four people who are still on the road, we are on the road for half a year each year.We don't have time to paint continuously, we don't have any source of income, we don't have any money, so we will find some work on the trip, earn a little money, and then make works.We have done countless jobs, such as moving bricks on the construction site, painting some murals and designing for people, and making billboards for gas stations last time. Everyone is equal before life.
The days spent in the "ghost town" over the years have been calm and lonely. We have witnessed the slow changes brick by brick, and we can really feel the passing of time on ourselves.We have changed from a student to a middle-aged person. "The long hair moved back along the hairline, but it stayed in the ghost town". I hope this work will last longer. We will "sleep until there are no ghost towns in China". .
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