Hometown Spring is the city project launched by City For Humanity, an independent brand under Life Week, in association with the curator Cui Cancan. The picture where spring drowns the cities in wild grass and trees and those moving emotional stories in small towns generate more imagination and hope in a similar way as the title and emotion of the film Spring in a Small Town indicate.
Large cities have dominated the urban narrative of urbanization where the population rapidly shifts over the past several decades. When big cities open themselves to the world, align themselves with globalization, and completely immerse themselves in the modern trends of industrialization and capitalization of capitalism, they are either motivated or forced to move away from localization and uniqueness and even every city dweller becomes an island, entire of itself. In the meantime, natural connections between cities and home villages are cut off. Traditional community integrating cities and home villages turns out to be a cultural nostalgia since it’s hard for the migrants to return. That is nothing short of the paradise lost.
In the middle of the super large-sized cities and very large-sized cities at the top of China’s city pyramid and the villages at the bottom are layers of satellite cities, third and fourth-tier cities and counties which are underplayed actively or passively. In assorted forms, small and medium-sized cities witness broader changes of times in China, so can they become the bond to rebuild the urban-rural continuum?
Hometown Spring focuses on the changes in many small cities and towns in China. This exhibition is joined by 14 extraordinary creators, including Chen Hongyu (musician), Ge Yulu (artist), Huang Yang (designer), Li Han (architect), Li Qing(artist), Li Bingyuan (artist), Liang Chen (architect&artist), Liu Zhao (designer), Lu Qingyi (director), Wen Na (artist), Wu Linshou (architect), Xiao He (musician), Yan Ge (writer), and Zhang Xiao (artist). They’re inspired to adventure into their own hometowns, or small cities where others have lived to see landmarks inside the city, billboard changes on the street, and parks on the corner. With all eyes on every detail, they intend to present a new insight and narration of the stories exclusive to those communities in the all-embracing collections.
In such a hometown as remembered, we climbed its trees, rode bicycles on its cracked sidewalks, and swam in its rivers, regardless of its roughness and unsightliness. There, it is easier for individuals to build a relationship in an intimate circle. Their lives look more tangible and warm. Also there, residents eat and drink traditionally and their dialect remains unchanged and intact; more distinctive and diversified urban landscapes endure.
The exhibition extends its stories of small cities to Ergun in Inner Mongolia, Zhanjiang in Guangdong, Yantai in Shandong, Dandong in Liaoning, Yongzhou in Hunan, Huzhou in Zhejiang, Luodian in Guizhou, Jinjiang in Fujian, Handan in Hebei, Neijiang, Gulin and Pixian in Sichuan, and Pinggu and Yanjiao near Beijing, among others. Those small cities and towns are geographically distant and emotionally intimate. The sense of hometown and localism is not concluded from the unique experience in any single town; it is a universal value instead.
Not everyone was born in a small town, though in every man there is a small town.
Cui Cancan and Jia Dongting