The Shanzhai Lyric

The Shanzhai Lyric: 閃 SHINE

Ming Lin and Alexandra Tatarsky will be reading shanzhai poems collected at Zoo Market, a five-story clothing market in Beijing, for the launch of their publication 閃 SHINE.

The Shanzhai Lyric is a body of research focusing on radical logistics and linguistics through the prism of technological aberration and nonofficial cultures. The starting point for this inquiry is the glossolalic and supra-sensical text that often appears on counterfeit (shanzhai) clothing. These phrases can be read as evidence of illicit yet empowering projects that generate new forms of agency among unlikely collaborators. Exploring and distorting the language of branding, shanzhai language collapses the real and the ideal in a lateral logic which destabilizes global hierarchies. In this way, shanzhai language might be included in post-colonial discourse surrounding the strategic use of language as a mode of resistance, as a subversion and reappropriation of American cultural imperialism. How we might carve out a deterritorialized space by rewriting the grammar of consumerism?

Made in China but bearing English text, ubiquitous garments spotted across the globe feature texts and aphorisms which appear to be mistranslations from some obscure fashion manual.

Further reading:

Ming Lin is a writer-researcher whose work looks at the politics of production and parallel narratives embedded in the network global logistics. Frequently under the helm of collaborative research platform Display Distribute, her most recent project looks to myth-making as a means of mobilizing attention towards obscured instances of autonomy along the supply chain.

Alexandra Tatarsky is a writer and performer whose current research focuses on the intersection of French mime pedagogy and Russian sound poetry as twin practices of embodied resistance to authoritarian thinking. Her most recent work, Americana Psychobabble, will be performed Feb. 23-25 at JACK in Brooklyn. More at:

Jan 25th 2017