article _ EXHIBITING THE CITY

Posted on March 1, 2012

Review of Urban China: Informal Cities (exhibition), Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians, #71:1 (March 2012): 129-31.

 

Excerpt: We live in an age of extreme urbanization. Nowhere is this more palpable then in the cities of China. In a country with the fastest urban growth rate recorded in human history, where a new cocktail of capitalist enterprise and socialist political regime pushes market boundaries and spatial conditions alike, and where the city is increasingly challenged and reconditioned beyond previous notions of urbanity, the public’s inventiveness to engage these terrains is constantly tested. It is at this juncture between bureaucratic policy and public myth, political doctrine and vernacular improvisation, urban infrastructure and rural almanac, that a particularly vivid condition between the formal organizations of the city and the informal engagements with it can be observed. Urban China: Informal Cities, a recent exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago, worked at exactly this intersection where formal impositions and informal engagements collide. . . .