CONFUCIUS AND LEARNING I came to a Confucius temple, and a school. I understood, then, the link between the roots of beliefs passed on from one generation to another, in the spatial sense: the inseparable link between Confucius and knowledge in China. [ + ]
CONFUCIUS AND LEARNING
I came to a Confucius temple, and a school. I understood, then, the link between the roots of beliefs passed on from one generation to another, in the spatial sense: the inseparable link between Confucius and knowledge in China. When a friend of mine arrived, she had many items with her: incense sticks, paper, red silk thread, and a wooden panel. The transformation of these items then started to take place. On the paper, she told me to write all my needs and hopes concerning my studies. Then, by adding the red string to them, they would become “gaokao [university entrance exam] wishes”. The wooden panels became “prayer cards”, a tradition that is believed to have originated in this very temple in Shanghai. Together we then hung them in a tree, where other students’ prayers already hung, so that they would be received by Confucius . Before that, though, we paid our respects by kneeling in front of Confucius and lighting three incense sticks each, which we then placed inside a huge vase made for this purpose. After finishing our respective rituals, we went to one of the largest book markets in Shanghai, where an amazing array of rare books, manuscripts, comics, propaganda posters and other items from various Chinese eras were waiting to be discovered.
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WORKING SHOES As we came out of the classroom, I couldn’t help noticing my Western friend’s shoes. They looked very comfortable, and pretty, too, in nice, soft colours. [ + ]
As we came out of the classroom, I couldn’t help noticing my Western friend’s shoes. They looked very comfortable, and pretty, too, in nice, soft colours. She told me that she had found them somewhere in a small shop in a lilong. She fell in love with them and bought them. However, she also mentioned the awkward way the shopkeeper looked at her. Later on, our Chinese colleagues saw them and started whispering among themselves, then smiling. We asked them what was going on. They told us that these shoes are meant for the “working class” on construction sites, and that only workers wear them. It’s like the different colour codes that exist in the urban fabric: blue buildings tend to be factories, for example – not hospitals, not housing, not shopping malls – and everyone is aware of this trend.
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COLD MEAT 3 I got on the train, and began to wander through the train corridors. Suddenly, I had the feeling that it would be a longer trip than I had imagined. [ + ]
COLD MEAT 3
I got on the train, and began to wander through the train corridors. Suddenly, I had the feeling that it would be a longer trip than I had imagined. Whole families were filling the gaps between seats. Walking through the train, I discovered three-storey compartments and row after row of bunk beds. I arrived at my seat. The man beside me saw my face (which must have betrayed the fact that my stomach wasn’t quite feeling up to such a long trip, alone), and offered me the window seat. We were seated four face to face with another four passengers, 50 cm away from other eight, and so on. A small fan moved its blades, but no wind seemed to follow its instructions. The train was now in motion, and, as if following an order, everyone took something out from their bags. A piece of… what was it? Now, I understood : dried meat. Dried meat in diverse forms: diced, in ribbons, and in flat rectangles of all sizes. However the treats didn’t stop there. There were also chicken feet, available in white and black versions. Oh yes! They would eat the meat, gnawing off the flesh until they arrived at the bone, and then the fun would really begin. They would break the bones and suck out the insides in order to extract every last morsel. I was kindly asked, many times, if I wanted to eat some of these bones, probably because of my gaze, which was too inquisitive, and possibly interpreted as linked to a stomach that was craving some of this train food. I opened the cola, and started forgetting that I had a sense of smell; I just wanted to forget everything. However, I had brought some dried soup with me, and there was a place on the train where you could get hot water. So, the next morning, I would be able to reconstitute the noodles and fit in with my travel companions, by slurping on hot soup. I was shown that, throughout this long journey, I was never alone, I would be taken care of, and our differences were not categorical differences. Later on, I wondered how a whole culture could derive so much satisfaction from sucking bones and gnawing away at dry meat. The answer made me love this culture even more than I could ever imagine. The answer was the love that parents give to their children. In the past, Parents would tell their children that the bones were the most delicious part of the animal, in order to justify why they, the parents, were not eating the precious meat, which would be reserved for the children’s plates. In this way, several generations grew up believing that bones were more precious than meat, as they were never given them to eat. I understood more closely the feeling of “community spirit” and “neighbourliness ” in the lilongs during those unforgettable 18 hours of travel. I became a temporary part of a tight-knit community. Even without trying the bones. Yet they understood that I wouldn’t have the skills to enjoy this food, made for the road, for the transition from one story to another.
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KITCHEN 1 No matter how delicious Chinese food is, and how keen you might be to learn how to make it yourself, DO NOT GO INTO THE KITCHEN! The Shanghainese say that heaven has Chinese food but hell is its kitchen. [ + ]
No matter how delicious Chinese food is, and how keen you might be to learn how to make it yourself, DO NOT GO INTO THE KITCHEN! The Shanghainese say that heaven has Chinese food but hell is its kitchen.
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WALLS AND PATHS Many books have been written about the typologies of the built space in Shanghai, in terms of form, in terms of function and even in terms of the absence of both. Many have dissected its built forms and subdivided them into many categories. [ + ]
WALLS AND PATHS
Many books have been written about the typologies of the built space in Shanghai, in terms of form, in terms of function and even in terms of the absence of both. Many have dissected its built forms and subdivided them into many categories. But we can all agree that Shanghainese walls are both impermeable and porous, solid and fragmented, opening and closing gaps in the city. In the Chinese tradition, it is written that ghosts cannot walk along paths that turn around corners. Furthermore, they have to take on the form of the bridges in Chinese gardens in order to cross the ponds they straddle. In Chinese philosophy, a walk through a garden should command all of a person’s attention, as there is only one time and one space: the here and now. The lack or presence in a given dimension of railings, which are more decorative than functional, is to exalt this dimension of being. Being lost in one’s thoughts can result in one falling into a pond… in the here and now.
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KITCHEN 2 Walking around Shanghai, it is easy to become obsessed with discovering every street, looking into courtyards, taking pictures and videos of everything, literally everything. Each layer of the city, each smile, each movement of each living being and object, combined with the abstract aspects of this city, all makes you drift. [ + ]
Walking around Shanghai, it is easy to become obsessed with discovering every street, looking into courtyards, taking pictures and videos of everything, literally everything. Each layer of the city, each smile, each movement of each living being and object, combined with the abstract aspects of this city, all makes you drift. Soon enough, you fall in love with their food, present in every corner of the city, so ingrained into their culture. Then, as you move around, you suddenly realize that kitchens in China actually belong outside the house. When I asked why, my Chinese friends would simply reply, “It is dangerous to cook inside; Chinese food is made to be cooked outside.” I keep walking, further and further, and let myself be absorbed by this city, which I start calling home.
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Le Sensual City Studio est conçu comme un lieu de réflexion où se fabrique la pensée, long cheminement nécessaire au travail de conception et de réalisation des projets. Approcher l’espace dans sa complexité physique, fonctionnelle, sociologique, nécessite un décloisonnement des disciplines et un travail collectif : c’est ce que reflète la composition de l’équipe, étoffée par un riche faisceau de contributeurs. Cette démarche, à la croisée des savoirs et de la création, permet la rencontre des regards : une démarche de co-construction ouverte qui enrichit la compréhension des enjeux et donne un sens à la conduite des projets menés au sein du Studio. Cette posture de recherche et d’approfondissement s’inscrit dans la tradition humaniste du studio, cabinet d’étude de la Renaissance où sciences et arts convergent et se nourrissent de leurs apports mutuels.
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