onsdag den 13. juni 2012

How to Start Your Own Country

Artist, designer and curator Ou Ning was invited by Moleskine to sketch his research towards founding an experimental microstate, a utopia. Through the notebook we witness the conception of an ideal community in Bishan village. It is now known as the Bishan Commune. You can see the recording on moleskine's webpage

The second page of Ou Ning's moleskine notebook carries the front cover of the book: How to Start Your Own Country by Erwin Strauss (second edition, 1983).

The picture on the front cover of the book features the Principality of Sealand located on a Maunsell sea fort build during World War II to help defend the United Kingdom. The facility has been occupied by the former British Major Paddy Roy Bates since 1967 and they claim it as an independent sovereign state. Its has been described as the world's smallest nation or a micronation (Micronations: The Lonely Planet Guide to Home-Made Nations).

Maunsell Sea Forts (or possible micronations):

Ou Ning's notebook and the Principality of Sealand

If we continue through the notebook of Ou Ning we see the common law of Freetown Christiania, a self-proclaimed autonomous area in Copenhagen, Denmark covering 34 hectares consisting mainly of former military barracks and parts of the city rampants. The area has a unique status in that it is regulated by a special law. Christiania also claims not to be part of EU.

Ruralism + Anarchism

Anarcho-communist Peter Kropotkin

The Bishan Commune and its flag

Open air Cinema (露天影院) (l) and small theatre (r)

Livingquarters (r) in Bishan Village

Le Corbusier

How to Start Your Own Country can be found in its entirety here.

tirsdag den 5. juni 2012

Ou Ning: What Wukan Means

From the Wukan protests. The picture is from Ou Ning's blog

I have previously written about the uprising i Wukan village in 2011, an uprising mainly related to the transferring of property rights and unfair compensation to the transferred and dislocated. The conflict gave rise to a fleeing village party secretary and direct confrontation with the local authorities. In spite of the rough beginning the conflict ended in democratic election, where the villagers themselves were allowed to choose their own representatives.

In a blogpost entitled What Wukan Means Ou Ning gives a thorough account of the events during the siege of Wukan in the last part of 2011 and adds the historical context to conflicts related to the uneven development of rural and urban areas. Ou Ning argues for new ways to understand what happened in Wukan by reflecting on new meanings of the word "politics" and "revolution. Ou Ning argues:

It is also time for a new definition of “revolution.” Revolution doesn’t need to mean seizing power. It doesn’t need to mean one political party replacing another. It doesn’t need to mean violence. Revolution can mean the melting away of conflict, a common search for a road through our problems. It can mean sharing, rather than seizing. It can bring smiles instead of terror. It can be a storm of ideas rather than a call to arms. Revolution doesn’t need to mean the burying of a system; it can mean the system’s renewal. Revolution doesn’t need to mean chaos; it can also mean order. Wukan has already set the example. It is time for history to follow.

Ou Ning is a graphic designer, editor, activist, blogger, documentary filmmaker and many other things. His praxis encompasses many different disciplines and ways of thinking. Ou Ning is the director of the films San Yuan Li and Meishi Street (in collaboration with the artist Cao Fei) both dealing with urban redevelopment and demolition.

Ou Ning is also the editor of the literary magazine Chutzpah! Edition 6 is entitled The Revolutions and carries several articles on the Arab Spring and discussions of revolution.