Artistic (re-)interpretation of ceramic roof tiles in Beijing: an intervention in debates about urban visual identities in Chinese cities
Wenbo’s research focuses on the (re-)interpretation of ceramics roof tiles informing urban visual and cultural identities in contemporary Chinese cities. Her research is practice-based and regards the ceramics roof tile cultural element of urban space and contemporary city, which builds the sensory connection between the city and people. It aims to explore how the remaking and display of ceramic roof tile in cities can restore people’s city memories and enhance people’s perceptions of urban spaces through a sense of cultural belonging.
In the last decade, the world has witnessed the economic boost and accelerated- urbanization in china. Skyscrapers and modern concrete surfaces have been dominant in the “urbanized” city images in most Chinese cities. Large replacement of historical buildings and ‘new towns’ have resulted in dramatic shifts to material, visual, and social disparities. How are these visual representations of cities communicating about the past and present to its residents and visitors?
A number of contemporary Chinese artists have practiced on the collectible materials and objects from the “demolished” to reflect memories of cities such as Song Dong’s Same Bed Different Dreams and Ying Zhijun’s Ruined City. However, a few have extended the practice into a site-specific intervention and re-make the traditional material and form to bridge the past and present. My study will focus on the ceramics as a material and a culture element occupying Beijing’s architecture and urban space in “China economic miracle’’ period and build the sensory connection between city and beholders. It aims to explore how the remake and display of clay and clay objects in cities can recall memories of the city and enhance people’s perceptions of urban spaces through a sense of cultural belonging.
To achieve the aim, Wenbo has used an ethnographical appraoch to develop the understanding of the urban memories through an “exchange of tiles” action to facilitate conversations with the Hutong residents. Through the lense of the microhistories of the residents, she will construct a new interpretation of “interwaving” and “expressions” as theoretical concepts. Using artistic practice as a research method, she will develop onsite installations using tiles as a medium to test the theoretical understandings in the Hutong context in Beijing, using a reflexive method through writings of reflections during the the practice.
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- Dr. Jieling Xiao
- Dr. Sandra Costa
- Dr. Jonathan Day.