This performance revolves around a commissioned mural depicting bulldozers flattening sand dunes in preparation for laying new urban grids. The mural is painted on a derelict water pumping station adjacent to tree plantations near the 6th ring road. The planted tree rows in the foreground and background function as a theatrical stage that situate the “actors” that pass along the road behind the building. The signifiers that are mobilized as actors for this stage are all directly referencing the material resources that contributed to the creation of structures and infrastructures of Hongsibu in the early 2000's.

These symbols include structural elements that are emblems of development in the area, such as solar panels, concrete water tubing, and resettlement houses. The corn, grapes and watermelon are also coupled with these to reference the main crops of the Hongsibu valley, which are cultivated both as a food source and cash crops in the case of grapes for Ningxia’s booming wine industry.

Lastly, a sign that reads “Museum for Wasteland Reclamation” is left beneath the mural that is gradually revealed towards the end of the video. This illuminating sign is a prop that is simultaneously presented with the video in the gallery and helps contextualize the entire performance as a critical reading of museological impulses to historicize narratives of rapid urbanization in contrast to slow dune encroachment.

Originally exhibited at Tides of Sand and Steel at Si Shang Art Museum, in collaboration with ADL. 

Rouzbeh Akhbari -
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