Intimate Immensity 

Consumed, Depleted, and Worn Down at Home

Currently on view at Shanghai UCCA Edge 4F 
2023.11.4 - 2024.2.18

In this exhibition, we re-examine one of the most fundamental archetypes of architecture – the “domestic space.” This series serves as a reminder of a seemingly obvious but frequently overlooked fact: in our contemporary society,  private spaces have become filled with material and emotional consumption that the inhabitants must make a  conscious effort to reinstate the original sheltering and restoring functions of these domestic spaces.

Home can be a starting point when investigating the relationship between people and space. On one hand, it is an abstract symbol, a way of being in the world, a shelter from the wind and rain, a place for rest and nurture, and an entity in which the human psyche and spirit are influenced and projected. On the other hand, homes are tangible spaces and mundane objects required by our daily activities, from what we eat and wear to how we live and travel. Focusing on China and our current realities, the concept of “home” would also encompass numerous social and societal topics. The rapid development of the Internet has radically transformed our work dynamics. New ways of working such as working from home, teleconferencing, and 24-hour online work ethics have largely penetrated the idyllic concept of home, the private space to which one returns after work. The blurring boundaries between the public and private lives also add to people’s self-exploitation or continuous mental exhaustion during off hours. The global economic downturn has exacerbated the “more pain less gain” phenomenon across all industries. Individuals feel increasingly powerless in this larger context and choose to live in a “Tang Ping” (lying flat) manner, resulting in a burnout and low-desire population. This phenomenon is, in fact, not unique to China, but prevalent in almost all post-capitalist countries. Besides, as discussions surrounding  feminism, labor rights, and mental health gain traction on public media platforms, the previously overlooked or undervalued household labor, such as chores and emotional support to the family, have now received more attention.

In response to these pressing conditions, we need to re-examine the relationship between people and space. When public health emergencies begin to affect the freedom of numerous ordinary individuals and when it gets increasingly difficult to “poetically dwell,” everyday life at home becomes the only possible battleground for people to defy against the framework of capitalism and consumerism. Every object and activity inside each house are both mundane and extraordinary. By carefully surveying our daily meals, rests, and conversations, we are also scrutinizing the conditions of our own lives.

Henri Lefebvre's analysis of the historical realities of his time nearly half a century ago is still valid today, “Everyday life is profoundly related to all activities, and encompasses them with all their differences and their conflicts; it is their meeting place, their bond, their common ground. And it is in everyday life that the sum total of relations which make the human – and every human being – a whole takes its shape and its form.” By reprogramming everyday life, people can detach themselves from the trivial, grasp that “moment of alienation,” and introduce their own creativity and philosophical thinking. One of the most effective ways to do this may be to “make everyday life into a work of art.” 

The Tentacle Project is presented in the windowed corridor in UCCA Edge. Using post-processed 3D scan data, Dunes Workshop created 1:1 architectural sectional perspective representations that brought six different domestic interiors into the exhibition space. These abstract imageries depict selected areas within individual homes where the inhabitants feel most “worn down.” It could be the desk where someone works late at night, the couch where arguments with loved ones take place, the chair where one watches reels on their phone, or the countertop where food is made, ...  All these implicit and explicit consumptions and depletions are fragments taken from the perpetual everyday life. Through the manipulations of images, the mundane is defamiliarized and displayed in the gallery space to be scrutinized and discussed. Here, consumption is directly addressed, as well as its close associations with everyday life and individual rights. Only when consumption is recognized can restoration be possible.

According to Gaston Bachelard, the term “immensity” refers to dreams, subjectivity, and even happiness, “Immensity is within ourselves. It is attached to a sort of expansion of being that life curbs and caution arrests, but which starts again when we are alone. " In this project, Dunes Workshop intends to reveal the “immensity” of individual life experiences in the “intimacy” of the house. “The Tentacle Project: Intimate Immensity” consists of a mini-exhibition and a series of public events. It is curated by the Senior Curator of Public Practice at UCCA Edge, Qian Mengni.

Dunes Workshop © 2023