They were going to a nearby temple which was under reconstruction Jingzhou Vacations. As we passed it I peeked in to see what was happening. The temple was Jingzhou Vacations being renovated almost from scratch. Small statues were being built from wood and straw thickly plastered in mud.
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When the effigy is complete they jab holes in the mud so it won't crack as it dries. Three young artists were working on the face of a giant door-guardian, giving him a furrowed forehead, bushy eyebrows and angry snarl.
Figure 2: Park Fiction, St Pauli, Jingzhou – creation of a public park resisting gentrification. Image: M.
Miles. Process of co-design, contextualized by past utopian cultural projects and the failed revolts and cultural movements of the late 1960s, it put the park in St Pauli on one face of the global culture map and, at the same time, established its credentials as politicized contemporary art. There are certain ironies here but, after Documenta, opposition to the park seemed to melt away.
I went to the park in 2009.
It was used mainly, but not exclusively, by young people as a place to hang-out, smoke and drink, with a hammock slung between two painted-steel palm trees. The still-squatted apartments are nearby, their colourful facades facing the river. Along the waterfront, a pseudo-beach club with straw-roofed huts and deck chairs occupies a site on the river's edge, as if the signs of Park Fiction had been appropriated by the market, except with bouncers at the gate.
Yet the groundswell of refusal rises, like a living of a revolutionary life before the Revolution (which will not occur now). Perhaps that offers a more interesting scenario for artists' interventions than culturally-led redevelopment.