Giselle's Books

Incomplete Poem (Laundry line) – Shanzhai Lyric, 30.08.2022 – 31.10.2023, Giselle’s Books · Marseille

Incomplete Poem (Laundry line)

Shanzhai Lyric

30.08.2022 – 31.10.2023
Giselle’s Books · Marseille

Incomplete Poem
by Shanzhai Lyric is a shifting archive of shanzhai t-shirts sourced from Hong Kong to New York, which they consider one long poem moving across bodies and landscapes. At Giselle’s, the installation weaves through the library and domestic quarters of the space and out onto the terrace, taking inspiration in part from the informal and wholesale markets in the neighbouring area and Marseille’s wider situation as a historic port city.

Shanzhai Lyric’s archive is often shared through purpose-built reading apparatuses, designed with architectural collective common room, that reference structures where text and textile trouble the borders of public and private space. Here, the structure is inspired by the form of a laundry line, which extends the domestic space out into public view, and by the subversive potential of “airing dirty laundry”—an idiom that refers to discussing personal, unpleasant matters in front of others.
The rest of the Incomplete Poem archive is currently on view at Henry Moore Institute in Leeds, UK, where Shanzhai Lyric has been pursuing research on textile industries, property, and theft— looking at the typology of the hedge as an original boundary marker across the landscape.

Established in 2015, Shanzhai Lyric investigates global trade networks, informal economies, and the poetics of counterfeit goods. 山寨, or “shanzhai,” translates to “mountain hamlet,” but also means “counterfeit” in contemporary Chinese usage. The group takes inspiration from shanzhai t-shirts produced in China that circulate globally, often emblazoned with non-standard English phrases expressing a radical disregard for the norms of branding. Shanzhai Lyric notes: “There is a delightful humour in the unexpected collisions of meaning, but what really resonates with us about these garments is how deeply we can be moved by apparent nonsense, how it actually seems to describe with poetic precision the experience of living in an utterly nonsensical world. With devoted irreverence, shanzhai poems highlight the arbitrary line between real and fake—designed to exploit and criminalize the many for the gain of the few.” Recent presentations include MIT School of Architecture and Planning, MoMA PS1, Henry Moore Institue, SculptureCenter, Amant, Canal Projects, Abrons Arts Center, Women’s Art Library, and Artists Space.

Incomplete Poem
de Shanzhai Lyric est une archive de t-shirts shanzhai, provenant de Hong Kong à New York et considérés comme un long poème se déplaçant à travers les corps et les paysages. Chez Giselle's, l'installation se faufile à travers la bibliothèque et les espaces domestiques du lieu en s'étendant sur la terrasse, s'inspirant en partie des marchés de ventes informelles du quartier voisin et de la situation de Marseille en tant que ville portuaire historique.

Les archives de Shanzhai Lyric sont souvent partagées par le biais de dispositifs spécifiques, conçus avec le studio d'architecture belge common room, faisant référence à des structures où le texte et le textile troublent les frontières de l'espace public et de l'espace privé. Ici, la structure s'inspire de la forme du fil à linge, qui étend l'espace domestique à la vue du public, et du potentiel subversif de airing dirty laundry (laver son linge sale en public) - une expression qui fait référence à la discussion de sujets personnels et désagréables devant d'autres personnes.
Le reste de l'archive d'Incomplete Poem est actuellement exposé à l'Institut Henry Moore de Leeds, au Royaume-Uni, où Shanzhai Lyric poursuit ses recherches sur les industries textiles, la propriété et le vol, en s'intéressant à la typologie de la haie en tant que marqueur de frontière original dans le paysage.

Shanzhai Lyric, Incomplete Poem, 2015-ongoing. Photo by Chenyue Dai. Courtesy the artist and MIT School of Architecture and Planning.