Character Deconstruction

Character Deconstruction 1.1

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Description: A large single Chinese character (meaning: 'to be demolished') was painted directly onto the front of many houses (particularly hutongs) by authorities in central Beijing.  This public marking appeared to be a very permanent and indisputable indication of the building and occupying family’s future.  Around these sites of hurried and furious demolition, one could see personal signs, posters and notes clinging precariously to the interior walls (now exposed) of houses, and teddy bears, underwear and food items scattered around amongst the debris of demolished building materials.  Many residents of these ancient hutong houses had protested about their swift demolition, their arguments for saving this traditional architecture and way of life in Beijing falling on the deaf ears of authorities.  Consequently the Action Researcher/Performers started writing with chalk much longer, smaller scale personal statements back onto the bricks, mortar and rubble of the newly demolished hutong houses in central Beijing, attempting to reinvest them with a sense of value and history amid the isolation and emotional loss caused by the compulsory relocation.  References were made to family and extended family living arrangements, local neighbourhood idiosyncrasies and the destruction and possible re-establishment of a sense of community through replacement activities and relationships at the new sites.

© Astra Howard 2014