Artistic and spatial mobility in China’s urban villages

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


    This chapter investigates the socio-spatial mobility between city and countryside in China, specifically concentrating on urban villages (城中村 chengzhong cun), through the lens of contemporary artistic practices. As the results of China’s transformations since 1978, urban villages are informal settlements widely looked down by central and local governments due to their irregularity and transience. Building upon the literature in the fields of social, urban, and geography studies, the author deploy visual arts as the framework to examine the mobility inherent within China’s urban villages. Through the qualitative, empirical, visual analysis of contemporary artistic practices by Weng Fen, Cao Fei, Zhu Fadong, Jiu Society, Handshake 302 and Xisan Film Studio, as well as interviews and online exchanges with selected artists, the author argues that the representations of mobility in Chinese urban villages are ambivalent: VICs and villagers are simultaneously depicted as invisible, and still, whilst being creative, and resourceful. Overall, this chapters asserts the significance of visual arts and, specifically, participatory and collaborative practices, which can widen the array of representations of urban villages and rethink the dynamics between city centres and urban villages.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationUrban Mobilities in Literature and Art Activism
    EditorsPatricia Garcia, Anna-Lena Toivanen
    Place of PublicationCham, Switzerland
    PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
    ISBN (Electronic)978-3-031-42798-5
    ISBN (Print)978-3-031-42797-8
    Publication statusPublished (VoR) - 1 Feb 2024


    • Contemporary art
    • socially engaged art
    • Guangdong
    • urban villages
    • migrants
    • countryside
    • urbanization


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