The Shanzhai Lyric is a body of research focusing on radical logistics and linguistics through the prism of technological aberration and nonofficial cultures. This inquiry into the glossolalic and supra-sensical text that often appears on counterfeit (Shanzhai) clothing looks at how the distorted rhetoric of fashion and branding uses mimicry, hybridity, and permutation to revel in and reveal the artifice of global hierarchies. Real and ideal collapse in a lateral logic that generates new forms of agency among unlikely collaborators. Speaking at the seams of production, this work contributes to a post-colonial discourse surrounding the strategic use of language as a mode of resistance. How might new fabrics of relation be woven from the detritus of consumerism?
In this poetry-lecture Ming Lin and Alexandra Tatarsky share research from their ongoing inquiry into the global phenomenon they call the Shanzhai Lyric. Visitors may also peruse a series of library interventions and grey market items on display.
Together Ming Lin and Alexandra Tatarsky investigate bootleg and copy culture, the poetics of mistranslation and nonstandard languages. After undertaking fieldwork in the summer of 2015 to collect the ecstatic phrases found on T-shirts in Beijing, their conception of the Shanzhai Lyric was first elaborated in The New Inquiry as a way to think through otherness, commodity, failure and longing churned through global networks of fast fashion production. They have subsequently developed these ideas in publications and performance pieces in London, Detroit, and New York City. A forthcoming series of essays for ArtReview Asia will use the Shanzhai Lyric as a framework for looking at strategies that confront difference, hierarchy, and gaze in contemporary art practice.
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