søndag den 13. juli 2014

Fieldwork Notes: Bishan Bookstore

The newly opened Bishan Bookstore
The Bishan Bookstore is the newest addition to Bishan Project. It is initiated by Qian Xiaohua, who has also established the renowned bookstore Librairie Avant-Garde in Nanjing. According to Qian Xiaohua, he hasn't made the bookstore to earn money. In addition, he continuously donates a considerable amount of books to the local library in Bishan. The bookstore intends to arrange various activities, coming up is a reading group organized by the thinker Wang Jiyu, which will be advertised through posters hung on the noticeboards around the village. Wang Jiyu temporarily resides at Ou Ning's Buffalo Institute in Bishan Village.

Hu Yongfeng, shop owner in Bishan
Not all the people in Bishan quite understood why Bishan Project were setting up a bookstore in Bishan, as the local small shop owner, Hu Yongfeng, expressed: "In rural areas, it is hopeless to try to sell books. The books are not going to sell. How many people actually buy books here? People here like to go to places like next door to play Mahjong. People here love to play Mahjong" (quoted from Sun Yunfan and Leah Thompson's film on Bishan Project "Down to the Countryside"). Other villagers express their clear believe in the project, as another small shop owner, Li Jin, states: "The bookstore will most definitely benefit Bishan, it is a good thing". 

Wang Shouchang, the local village historian, is in charge of the books
The local village historian, Wang Shouchang, is in charge of the books in the bookstore, he explains: "It is not easy to make the locals understand what they [Bishan Project] want to accomplish. In their eyes, the only tangible thing Ou and Zuo has done so far is the Bishan Bookstore" (quoted from Sun Yunfan and Leah Thompson's film on Bishan Project "Down to the Countryside"). Read more about Wang Shouchang on Adele Kurek's blog.

Xinghua working at the bookstore
Xinghua, who works at the bookstore, explains: "At first, the villagers came to the bookstore just to have a look. They would walk around with their hands on theirs backs, not touching anything or sitting down anywhere, but after two months they have slowly started coming here more often, being more relaxed, coming here to read books, access the internet or just to hang out".

Tang Xue, Ou Ning's fiancé, is the manager of the bookstore and takes care of the café
Tang Xue, manager of the bookstore and in charge of the cafe, explains, "To me the bookstore is not only a place for displaying and selling books, it has a multitude of functions; it is a reading space and a platform for exchange. I hope that what everybody accepts and requires is not only books, I hope that people will engage in exchanges, share thoughts and be influenced by culture, and the café can provide this kind of unreserved space".

More information on Bishan Project in English:

Ou Ning's blog

Adele Kurek's Tumblr

Tom Cliff, the Survival Politics Blog