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Urban China

A special bootleg version of Volume magazine will be available at the opening of Urban China: Informal Cities, an exhibition that opens February 11 at the New Museum in Manhattan. The exhibition bills itself as "a multifaceted exploration and physical manifestation of the groundbreaking magazine Urban China... the only magazine devoted to issues of urbanism published in and about China."

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The bootlegged Volume "borrows content" from some existing issues of Urban China and serves as something of a conceptual exhibition guide (of a rather experimental sort) for the show. However, it also includes a huge variety of interesting content grouped around the idea of the crisis—here understood as the financial crisis and its impact on the practice of architecture, but pertaining to any number of "crises," in any number of forms. As Mark Wigley writes in one of the issue's opening essays: 

Outside of architecture, we continually hear about crises, whether they are financial, political, medical, ecological, humanitarian, military, cultural, or psychological. Every sphere of activity seems to be in, going into, or coming out of crisis. We are continuously bombarded by stories about the energy crisis, the climate crisis, the mid-life crisis, the identity crisis, and so on. In fact, the word “crisis” appears repeatedly in almost every issue of each newspaper. Or to put it another way, crisis is always news, the most important news even. Each crisis is usually so dominant that it is soon referred to simply as “the crisis.” it could be argued that the key role of newspapers, magazines, radio, television and the internet is simply to monitor the lines between everyday, emergency, and crisis.

As would be expected from a new issue of Volume, then, it's a great read. 

Alongside Wigley's piece, there are essays by Eyal Weizman, Keller Easterling, and Stephen Graham (among many others); a series of interviews performed by Gavin Browning from Studio-X; and a five-part conversation between Christopher Hawthorne, Joseph Grima, Sam Jacob, Jeffrey Inaba (general editor of the issue), and, I'm proud to say, myself. This latter section of the magazine addresses the infrastructural promises of the Obama Administration, speculating as to how a change in national governance during a time of financial crisis might also change the country's physical landscape. Finally, the bootleg issue ends with a series of fantastic photographs taken inside foreclosed homes by Bay Area photographer Todd Hido.

So check it out! The exhibition itself runs February 11–March 29 in New York City.

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