FNAR 313/613: The Chinese Body and Spatial Consumption in Chinatown
H+U+D CITY SEMINAR
Historically, the urban courtyards of temples, native place associations, and provincial guilds served as public spaces of gathering. They were also sites of festivals and the conducting of neighbourhood and civic business. These spaces have become increasingly privatized or commodified with entrance fees. The air-conditioned concourses of enclosed shopping malls or busy outdoor market streets have become de facto public spaces in China where collective window shopping or promenading is the primary activity rather than bodily repose as one might find in a public space in a large Western city.
The seminar/studio will investigate the meaning of the term public in the constitution of Chinese space, audience and critical voice through firstly the enclave of Chinatown and secondly through examples from China. The course will look into the changing conceptualization of public space in Chinatown as it has declined in its traditional form and become reinvented in the form of high-end shopping centered districts. This flux has its roots in post 1979 China as well as the post 1997 reversion of Hong Kong to China. As such, the course will examine the situation of rapid urbanization in China and the concomitant relationship to new Chinese (and Asian) districts in the North American urban and suburban landscape ie Vancouver, Toronto, Arlington (Virginia), Oakland, Los Angeles valley and Queens (Flushing), New York. In what ways can artists and designers respond to and challenge these conceptualizations of the old and the new within the context of urban change? What of the changing formations of the Chinese subject through the experiences of embodiment? How is public space produced through an ethnically bracketed bodily presence. Findings will be translated by the student as tools for design and public art imaginings This course will include a week s trip to San Francisco to study how intense growth in the city has all but usurped old Chinatown while new and more vibrant Chinese centers have emerged in multiple other districts within the city and the suburbs