For Immediate release

On view April 13–May 5, 2023

Public Lecture: April 13, 6 pm
Workshop: April 14, 1-3pm 

MIT School of Architecture and Planning, Gallery 9, 105 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, MA 02138 

Cambridge, MA, April 3, 2023 – MIT announced “TO HOW DO YOU GO DEEP IN A SHALLOW WORLDP,” an intervention by poetic research unit Shanzhai Lyric in the MIT School of Architecture and Planning’s Gallery 9 on view April 13–May 5, 2023. Following their MIT NOMAS Lecture, selections from an archive of nearly 500 poetry-garments will be housed in heaps within the building’s barricaded revolving doors, repurposing defunct passageways as display structures. Additionally, Shanzhai Lyric will offer a workshop on creative (mis)translation and throughout the month invite various artists, writers and practitioners into conversation around questions of authenticity and artifice, considering relations between borders, thresholds, counterfeits and theft. The exhibition will culminate in a new publication for Shanzhai Lyric’s series Typology of Thieves, in which they celebrate the work of subversive shoplifters and thieves throughout history with each issue acting as a conceptual portrait of a thief.

“TO HOW DO YOU GO DEEP IN A SHALLOW WORLDP”: A Shanzhai Lyric (Mis)translation Workshop
April 14, 2023, 1:00-3:00 PM, Open to the Public

The workshop will be a collective experiment in translating shanzhai lyrics, the evocative experimental english often found on shanzhai (counterfeit) clothing manufactured in China and proliferating around the globe as an object of both desire and derision. The group of participants will discuss the politics of official and nonofficial languages, and the possibilities for translating a nonstandard tongue. How might we convey the absurd and subtle nuances of bootleg t-shirt text in other languages and mediums? How do we translate the poetry of the apparent "errors" of nonstandard spelling, punctuation, and lettering?

Following a period of discussion and writing exercises regarding approaches to experimental translation, the group will select individual garment-poems to translate in pairs. We will share these together and offer feedback and adjustments before thinking about design possibilities available within the resources of the art, design, and activist community. Participants will transpose selected lyrics and translation into a medium of their choice—be it risograph, performance, web-based, or an object-situation they have dreamed up. In so doing, students will be asked to expand their notions of poems, translation, and design as these forms meet and morph in graphic and sculptural interventions. Thus, we will attempt to undertake both inter- and intra-semiotic translations of shanzhai lyrics, that is, from one language system into another, as well as from one artistic medium into another.

We hope to stimulate the conversation and expand the possibilities of how a shanzhai lyric can move through the world.

About the artists
Shanzhai Lyric is a body of research focusing on radical logistics and linguistics through the prism of technological aberration and nonofficial cultures. The project takes inspiration from the experimental English of shanzhai t-shirts made in China and proliferating across the globe to examine how the language of counterfeit uses mimicry, hybridity, and permutation to both revel in and reveal the artifice of global hierarchies. Shanzhai Lyric circulate their ever-growing archive of poetry-garments in the form of poetry-lecture, publication, and installation. In the fall of 2020, Shanzhai Lyric founded the fictional office entity Canal Street Research Association from which they continue to problematize notions of ownership and property through bootleg as method. Their work has been presented in unofficial and official spaces including Amant, Times Museum, INIVA/Stuart Hall Library, Women’s Art Library, Abrons Arts Center, SculptureCenter, Artists Space, MoMA PS1, Printed Matter, Harvard (AFVS), Clearview Ltd, and the Canadian Centre for Architecture. Selected publications include essays in The New Inquiry, Viscose, The Serving Library, Capilano Review, Vulture and ArtReview Asia

About the MIT Department of Architecture
The MIT Department of Architecture opened its doors in 1868 as the first Architecture department in the United States. MIT Architecture is currently home to around 250 graduate and undergraduate students. Numbered among the Department’s over 5,000 alumni are Sophia Hayden 1890, Robert R. Taylor 1892, I.M. Pei ‘40, and Charles Correa ‘55.

As minority students and allies, NOMAS aims to provide a source of support and camaraderie through communal gathering, open discourse, and lasting mentorship. They challenge misconceptions surrounding minority representation and emphasize the importance of diverse communities through dialogues with the MIT community, lecture series, highlighting minority designers and researchers, open letters and advocacy. NOMAS is in support of systemic change to an exclusive profession that for centuries has created barriers for those outside of the canon, but they also choose to exist as a space for dialogue, change and care.

About MIT Gallery 9
Gallery 9 is the primary exhibition space for the School of Architecture and Planning. Each semester, Gallery 9—located on the first floor of Building 9, the Samuel Tak Lee Building—presents work drawn from the SA+P community, including faculty, researchers, students, and alumni.

Exhibitions are free and open to the public.

“TO HOW DO YOU GO DEEP IN A SHALLOW WORLDP was supported at MIT by the Department of Architecture, MIT NOMAS, Placemat, the Office of Graduate Education, and the School of Architecture and Planning. Shanzhai Lyric would like to thank Andrew Lee of Canal Projects. 

Special thanks to Nicholas de Monchaux, head of the Department of Architecture; Amanda Moore, Communications Strategist, Department of Architecture; Jim Harrington, SA+P Director of Facilities; Melissa Vaughn, SA+P Director of Communications; and the many faculty, staff, and students who facilitate the work of the MIT Department of Architecture Lectures and Exhibitions Committee and Lauren Schuller, Garnette Cadogan, and Monica Orta.

Visitor Information
MIT Gallery 9
Samuel Tak Lee Building, at 105 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, MA 02138
Monday through Sunday, 9AM to 6PM

Media contacts
Melissa Vaughn
Director of Communications, MIT School of Architecture and Planning

Amanda Moore
Communications Strategist, MIT Department of Architecture
amm@mit.edu / 617-253-0692

Leah Talatinian 
Senior Officer for Marketing and Communications, Arts at MIT
leaht@mit.edu / 617-253-5351