The project is an investigation into secondhand bookstores in the city of Shenzhen as symptomatic of the setbacks that have arisen from high-speed urbanism and top-down urban renewal strategies, in addition to other sub-forces such as digitisation and consumption.
The disappearance of these quotidian family-owned businesses reflects the lack of governmental efforts to preserve the “cityness” – where productive intersections and activities happen – in dilapidating areas as top-down strategies with limited awareness of its implications towards gentrification are being applied. Once a bustling street filled with privately owned stores selling a whole variety of affordable everyday items, now suffers from vacancy and demolition.
Second-hand bookstores reflect the vitality, richness and sustainable qualities of urban villages while providing affordable resources for learning and a venue for social exchange. Personal conversations with locals and stakeholders from the book industry reveal that there is a lack of appreciation and understanding towards the social function of second-hand books/bookstores.
You Xin is a performance, gesture and social action that aims to restore appreciation and value towards second-hand books and envision future neighbourhood venues as multifunctional spaces where informal learning and exchange takes place.
Virginia Lui, Aki Lee
is a common Chinese expression and the project’s title that describes the motivation for the project. It literally translates to “you have a heart” which is likened to “you are very thoughtful”. It is used in contexts when people show care towards other people, to one's neighbourhood, urban environment or nature.