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I Win... Sort Of
2011.06.17

You can’t walk a block in Caochangdi without encountering a large stack of bricks, piled six-to-eight feet high on the side of the road. They are a telling sign of the village’s transformation1 and have a totemic composition, alternating direction the higher they are stacked. Over the past few weeks they’ve become objects of fascination. They appear and disappear daily, ebbing with the pace of construction, constantly being re-sculpted and reformed. It’s unintentional, but hints at a kind of performance art.

The other day my desk mate started to grumble about respecting the line dividing our two spaces, noting the small piece of tape running perpendicular across the table from edge to edge. She wanted this line observed like it was the DMZ. It was clear that an equally militaristic response was in order, but my nuclear program is about as developed as North Korea’s. I had to look locally for my response. That night, after all but a small group of equally mischievous students had left, I began to build a wall of my own—around her desk. It was a bit more of an undertaking that I had initially anticipated, but within a few hours the desk, chair and all, was entirely enclosed. I documented the occasion in the photograph above, then took the wall back down. In the morning, the photograph was the only evidence that the wall ever stood.

Of course, the picture tells half the story. The half not shown is me laboring to carry stack of bricks into the studio, upstairs to our second floor loft , staging the photograph, then carrying back to their original home. Because I’m a good desk mate, I swept up after. There is no a picture of me getting back to my apartment as the sun came up, nor the look on my face as my alarm sounded for a third time a few hours later. Ultimately, the joke may have been on me, but victory goes to the one who claims it.

I win… sort of.

Notes:
1. As opposed to, say, the public restrooms