Shanzhai Lyric


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"FREEDON (and on and on)," Shanzhai Lyric at Women's Art Library, Goldsmiths: London; UK (2019). Courtesy Display Distribute.

FREEDON (and on and on)
Shanzhai Lyric

September 14 - October 11, 2019

Culminating a year as Women’s Art Library’s inaugural ‘Archive in Residence,’ the Shanzhai Lyric presents “FREEDON (and on and on),” a body of research examining the contemporary conditions that sustain the invisibilising of women’s labor — from fashion production in factories to data processing in IT industries. Drawing upon Marxist feminist discourse, the work considers errant T-shirt phrases as evidencing an unauthorized collective creative process that slyly refutes the logic of individual ownership.

Over the course of the year in residence, respondents were invited to consult the Shanzhai Lyric’s growing archive of shanzhai (counterfeit) garments and to contemplate shanzhai tactics within a lineage of feminist strategies of everyday resistance that often go unrecognized. “FREEDON (and on and on)” assembles this accumulating set of traces and interventions alongside artists held in the Special Collections & Archives who reside in the slippery space between high and low, original and counterfeit, consumer and producer — often occupying the “non-serious” sites of accessory, textile, glitch, and theft.

Situating selected works in conversation with the hybrid idiom of shanzhai lyrics, “FREEDON (and on and on)” finds in both counterfeit t-shirt text and certain modes of feminist artistic practice a shared gesture to transgress the norms of individual authorship and move instead towards a joyous, cacophonous reclaiming of the commons.

The exhibition opening of “FREEDON (and on and on) will also host a preview of Shanzhai Lyric’s contribution to the second issue of Press & Fold magazine. Back issues of Press & Fold will be available to visitors to the Women’s Art Library at a discounted price.

Shanzhai Lyric is a body of research focusing on radical logistics and linguistics through the prism of technological aberration and nonofficial cultures. The project takes inspiration from the experimental English of shanzhai t-shirts made in China and proliferating across the globe, to examine how the language of counterfeit uses of mimicry, hybridity, and permutation to both revel in and reveal the artifice of global fashion hierarchies. Viewing this as part of a larger aesthetic strategy of apparent nonsense as a way to disrupt the relentless forces of commodification and make space for hybrid, liminal and illegible futures, this work seeks to contribute to a de-colonial discourse surrounding the use of non-normative language as a mode of resistance. Shanzhai Lyric has previously taken the form of poetry-lecture, essay, installation and archive: @shanzhai_lyric

Press & Fold is an independent fashion magazine that aims to explore alternative fashion forms and narratives. The bi-annual magazine provides a platform for critical fashion practitioners who do not obey the rules the fashion system is currently dictating. @press_and_fold

With support from the Women’s Art Library/Feminist Review Bursary, RADMIN, and Life Sport 

Non-Goldsmiths visitors should notify security at the Library reception in order to attend the event.

For more information please contact the Women's Art Library