The concept of this work is my reflection on the increasingly obvious housing contradictions in urban China. The Chinese have always had the tradition of buying their own house before getting married. But in recent year, with the advancement of urbanization and the rapid increase of urban population，this tradition has become a suffocating pressure for people living in cities, especially young people, whose income is far from enough to pay for a house.
Xiamen, the city where I live, in recent years, its house price has ranked the fourth in the 660 cities in China, which has left the most working class facing tremendous pressure. Facing this absurd reality of life, I want to also use the absurd way to “solve”. I noticed that there is a “utopian” existence in the gaps of the city: the Self-built houses. It refers to the houses built with the lowest cost and the fastest speed by the very few and last local farmers with land in the city.(why built houses with fastest speed is to seize the building permission granted many years ago before the government deny it without reason). So, the ‘solution’ is to “build” house myself—the word for ‘build’ the house is the same word of the “seal” stamp in Chinese—I planed to make a manual mechanical installation with the function of ‘building’ (stamping) a house:
I visited an old master who has more than 30 years of self-built house construction experience in Xiamen and invited him to participate in this project. He accepted my interview and drew me several sketches of the common models of self-built houses in Xiamen. Then, we were jointly built a machine that can reversed stamping, and divided these self-built house sketched models into separate elements and made into a puzzle board. During the exhibition, the audience can choose the board they like, install it on this machine, and use this machine to stamp a ‘self-built house’ pattern belonging to themselves to take away. Yes, my ‘solution’ is just an absurd black humor.
These houses that are sandwiched between urban high-rises, downtown areas, independent and even with yards, but with super low cost, are undoubtedly the utopia of most young people who want to settle down in the city. But most of us are not the very few lucky people with land and built permits in city, this “utopia” is not our reality. So, no matter the participant who play this machine is already a house owner or have no house, I just hope this simple and absurd copying process can give them a simple smile and comfort when they get the ‘house’ ‘built’ (stamped) by themselves.