[NetBehaviour] Shanzhai Archeology opens at Watermans Wed 21st March

Irini Papadimitriou irini at watermans.org.uk
Mon Mar 12 22:17:38 CET 2018

Dear all

I am very pleased to announce our next exhibition at Watermans, Shanghai
Archeology, which opens on Wednesday 21st March. I hope you can join us.

Shanzhai Archeology presents an extraordinary collection of mobile phones
from the technological interbreeding Made in China. These are hybrid
products developed at an incredible speed merging piracy, reverse
engineering, unique creativity and self-taught skills.

*Exhibition launch*: Wednesday 21 March, 6.30-8.30pm
Join the artists in conversation with Brendan Cormier, Lead Curator of 20th
and 21st Century Design for the Shekou Project, Victoria and Albert Museum,
followed by drinks.
Free, please book your space as numbers are limited:

A Buddha Phone, becomes a virtual altar by pressing a special key. The
“smallest in the world” or Prisoner Phone is made of 99% plastic and is
barely detectable by the authorities. There’s the Taser Phone, marketed as
a self-defence weapon, or the Sound System Phone, catering for China’s
pensioners as it can broadcast loud sound outdoors, being heard above the
din of the public dances they love. It also comes with several gigabytes of
old-fashioned communist songs that Chinese pensioners are particularly keen
on. Other curious devices include strawberry or car-shaped phones, devices
with in-built electric razors, lighters, power banks, video projectors and
other impressive features.

A profitable business produced by small companies, shanzhai mainly happens
out of Western sight, due to regulations that forbid most of these hybrid
products to circulate legally across borders. Nevertheless, shanzhai
devices fulfil a bespoke need or desire for hundreds of thousands of
consumers in countries around the world, not just in China.

At a time when shanzhai might be under threat – following the Chinese
government’s decision to clean up the country of its counterfeiter
reputation – this project casts a critical eye at the results of unfettered
technological innovation, through the relatively unknown history of the

Positioning this project at the crossroads between art and anthropology,
the artists explore the cultural value of shanzhai and the radical
otherness on its creative process; an open manufacturing model resulting in
singular design solutions outside streamlined market forces and global
innovation myths.

More information about the exhibition:

Best wishes

Irini Papadimitriou
Head of New Media Arts Development
40 High Street

Direct line: +44 (0)20 8232 1012
Admin: +44 (0)20 8232 1020

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