Mountain Village 山寨 ‘(2017), trailer’

‘Mountain Village 山寨’ is the literal translation of the Chinese term Shanzhai which in late-dynastic mythology referred to remote strongholds of bandits operating far from government control. Today Shanzhai is the neologism for counterfeit products which replicate or appropriate branded consumer products. But Chinese copy culture isn’t limited to fake phones or computers. Recent years have also seen the Eiffel Tower, parts of the UK and even entire towns being replicated in China. These ‘copy towns’ are not theme parks but residential property developments built for actual communities.
The 30’00” video literally revolves around a famous mountain village: Hallstatt, Austria which was replicated in south Chinas Guangdong Province in 2012. The footage, which captures the property developments architecture and life along with it’s artificial lake and alpine backdrop, is juxtaposed with the Austrian original and several other simulacra across China including Thames Town near Shanghai, several Eiffel Towers and the Dafen Painting Village where a large percentage of the worlds fake oil paintings are created. Going beyond the original/copy dichotomy the video also examines the European locations and shows how their own architectural and cultural history is performed and mediated by the tourism industry, ultimately negotiating the entangled narratives which are co-created by both the Chinese imitations and their European precedents. The video is accompanied by an original musical score by Benedict Drew.

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