Sha Ma Te, a popular subculture trend among young Chinese urban workers, which is transliterated from the English word 'smart', is known for exaggerated, cheap clothing and hairstyles. Li Yifan, an artist and a documentary director, had spent years on the field study and research about the 'Sha Ma Te' group, and created a feature film with interviews and factory scenes. At the exhibition site, hundreds of second-hand mobile phones will be used to play the production scene videos which are bought from the workers.
Li Yifan regards the exhibition as an opportunity for the museum's audience to see another community. In the feature film, he borrowed the narratives of the young workers to describe the conditions and changes of 'Sha Ma Te', and how it declined with the violence of public opinion. As the project progressed, he kept his role as an ignoramus and gradually discovered that the rise of 'Sha Ma Te' was caused by the isolation and alienation of young urban workers from the mainstream life of the city. In the end, he considered the project a progress of disenchantment against the term 'Sha Ma Te'. This is consistent with his usual principal, that is, in the current situation of China, art creation should be based on direct, physical experience of social life, and only by the transcendence of the fact itself can we gain enough creativity.
Press release courtesy Guangdong Times Museum.