Informal Market Worlds | Shanghai symposium

Informal Market Worlds | Shenyang, 2006
Informal Market Worlds | Shenyang, 2006

The Informal Market Worlds research forum took place yesterday and today at the HKU Shanghai Study Center. MovingCities was invited to present work, thoughts and analysis. Entitled The Market & The Territory our contribution was a great excuse to delve into our archive, find correspondences and differences throughout almost a decade of urban investigations. Examples traversed Shanghai 上海, Beijing 北京, Guangzhou 广州, Zibo 淄博, Shenyang 沈阳, Moscow, Maputo, Istanbul, Surabaya, Jakarta and Bandung.

Informal Market Worlds is part of Other Markets – a research project instigated by Dr Helge Mooshammer [project director] & Prof Peter Mörtenböck [co-investigator] /ThinkArchitecture – and brought together research on the architecture and visual culture of informal markets with a range of case studies from across Asia and beyond. Informal Market Worlds II is part of an itinerant series of conferences world-wide, with further meetings at UC San Diego [Feb 2012] and in Istanbul [Spring 2013].

Other Markets is an international research project that investigates the architectural and cultural realm of informal markets as a decisive yet often overlooked theatre of urban transformation. Debating the spatial culture of informal markets as an arena of negotiation between multiple political demands, social actors and environmental constraints, Other Markets aims to conceptualize how we can build more equal participation in the space of economy vis-à-vis the economy of space. In what ways can the spatial practices and cultural mechanisms that sustain informal markets help us to articulate urban policies that are in line with the transnational realities of today’s populations?

Amongst others, the Shanghai symposium featured presentations by Daan Roggeveen [HKU SSC / Go West Project], Brechtje Spreeuwers [Go West Project] Valerie Portefaix & Laurent Gutierrez [MAP Office Hong Kong], Matias Viegener [Fallen Fruit] and Laurence Liang [Alternative Law Forum].

Informal Market Worlds | HKU Shanghai Study Center, November 8-9, 2012
Informal Market Worlds | HKU Shanghai Study Center, November 8-9, 2012

MovingCities presented The Market & The Territory. The objective was to lay-out and explain the opposite forces that shape the contemporary city. Showing case-studies from the MovingCities visual archive so to illustrate the shifting balance between formal and informal approaches to a developing megalopolis. Along the way, discussing the notions of counter-geography, copying, infrastructure, peri-urban expansion, iconography, destruction, instant cities, and mobility – so to depict a system of territorial transactions, of a world where informal markets and formal metropolitan worlds collide.

While working on the presentation it came to our mind to replace the reigning image of the market as a whirlwind of masses and goods, by the idea of a one-person market. As such the focus was put on the individual vendor within the shifting metropolitan context. Despite their singularity – occupying the street, corners, bridges, sidewalks and corners of the city – they become a swarm. These individuals – a selection depicted below – are the true inhabitants of a moving cities’ world.

A couple of keywords to contextualize this issue [note to self, start writing an essay about it]: taxonomy of the territory, merchandise & mobility, a world on wheels, the tricycle & the territory, mankind & movement, casual consumption, spill-over shopping spaces, in-between spaces and the extension of the domain of movement in the contemporary metropolis.

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Informal Market Worlds II research gathering at HKU Shanghai Study Centre is part of an itinerant series of conferences world-wide. Outcomes will be published in an atlas and a textbook by nai010 Publishers, in Autumn 2013. Supported by: University of Hong Kong, Shanghai Study Center, Goldsmiths College, University of London, FWF Science Fund.

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