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The Journey West 西遊記


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The Journey West Travel Office
西游旅行社

Over the next several months I will be embarking on a new project about critical tourism called The Journey West  西遊記 created in collaboration with US artist Dan S. Wang.

 

Riffing on the classic ancient Chinese tale, Journey To The West, about a rebellious monk who journeys west to India in the quest for knowledge, the project is the creation of a functioning travel agency located in the heart of Beijing that sells alternative tours of the United States. The tours we offer, created by a variety of individuals and that actually do exist (meaning you too can really take one) engage a critical dialogue around cultural representation, historical memory and environmentalism within the economy of global tourism.

 

Having both traveled extensively in China over the past 7+ years, the project emerged from our mutual interest (and fascination) with the ways in which Western consumer culture was translated and further naturalized through products, services and designed experiences. As a way to better understand this “mimesis” of the West and it’s resulting “affect” the travel agency through its system of exchange with the surrounding community that includes the hutong “working poor”, national and international tourists, high school and college shoppers and a few middle to upper class local Beijingers becomes a platform for situated, relational interaction. A mobile unit might also be deployed to hit other areas of the city such as more affluent less touristy shopping districts near the gated communities.

 

The tours thus far include: Ryan Griffis’ tour of Hollywood’s parking lots exploring real estate and gentrification, Trevor Paglen’s secret military bases in eastern California, Sarah Kanouse’s tour of the heartland offering insight into the history of military manufacturing and “Wild Man” Steve Brill’s edible tour of Central Park.