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51 摊 51 Tan

£9 ($11 / €10)
Weidian / 微店

51 Tan, or 51 street stalls, is an ongoing documentation project by one of the participants of the 51 Personae project, as part of the 11th Shanghai Biennale 2016–2017. The author’s drawings and sketches outline her observations of these stalls, scattered around Shanghai, from the perspective of a customer or a passer-by, noting details of their set-up, rationale of their design, materials used, spatial strategies and even conversations overheard – and form a subtle and human record.

It is hard to find a word in English that encompasses all the meanings of tān (摊). Words like vendor, stall (owner), peddler or hawker are either too static or too transient for the title to describe these street-smart mobile retail outlets or service providers that thrive outside of the official and regulated dimension of our cities but are inherently part of a city’s make-up.

In the fall and winter 2016, when the author was working on 51 Tan, the number of street vendors on Shanghai’s streets were declining quickly because of new urban administration policies and their powerful enforcement. The unexpected change made it much harder to collect content and she stopped at 39. When the book was first published in 2019, many of the stalls featured can no longer be found, for street hawkers, whose business depends on the fleeting trust of people on the move, are also the easiest and most visible targets in campaigns to tidy up the cityscape.

In 2021, the author made some revisions and fished out two “leftovers” from her original research and added them with four new stalls she noted since the pandemic, giving the 2021 edition of 51 Tan a more hopeful outlook towards the future.

Comments from the book’s makers

For us who enjoy the life offered by our streets, we are the participants of the scenes in 51 Tan. We are not outsiders unrelated to their appearance or disappearance. From a certain perspective, street vendors are both pioneers and syndromes of the city.
— Chen Yun, editor

As the ultimate masters of survival, street vendors are great teachers of life. They live with daily unpredictability in a way that few can comprehend, grappling with the vicissitudes of demand, market, weather, while constantly negotiating the liminal space between what is legitimate and forbidden. They can adapt, move location, shut shop and pivot, all at the drop of a hat.
— Animesh Narain, translator

Be it a slowly moving wicker chair stall with goods stacked up on the tricycle like a mountain, a pancake cooking cart using every inch of space to create a mini kitchen, or the hawking songs etched into our childhood memories … the imagination and creativity of them stems from the volatility of the street vendors’ destiny. Despite that, they still try to get hold of some branches in the cruelty of urban jungle and expect to build longer relations with some places and some people.
– Mira Ying, designer

Notes on design

Inspired by how efficiently and practically the street vendors set up their stalls, the book’s design is also simple and multi-functional in its use of material and layout. The folding design has been used by art books and magazines simply as a style mimicking how people tend to fold newspapers or magazines by half. But here it serves a real purpose – a Chinese reader may read the whole book without unfolding it, while the fluent and narrative English translation is set on the inner half of the pages with its paragraphs correspondent to the drawing’s positions.

Size (folded): 98 mm × 270 mm
Volume: 1–2
Pages: 156
Binding: staple bound, soft cover
Language: Chinese & English

Co-published by 51 personae (Shanghai) and Lee Chun Fung @ Otter Publishing (Hong Kong)
2021 edition, October 2021
ISBN: 978-988-76032-9-0
Published in Hong Kong

Author: A chronicler
Editor: Chen Yun
English Translator: Animesh Narrain
English Editor: Gigi Chang
Book design: Mira Ying
Assistant Producer: Chi Mian

《51 摊》是一个持续性的记录项目。作者作为第十一届上海双年展(2016–2017)「51 人」项目的参与者之一,以绘画速写勾勒她以顾客或路人的视角体察到的散落在上海特定位置的摊贩,记录他们的摆设细节、构造逻辑、材质用料、空间策略和街头对话——精妙而富有人情。

复兴、改造、更新、升级、和谐、秩序、文化、艺术、风貌、记忆、棚户、名人故居、社区营造……这个可以不断增补的词汇表,加上各界人士在这些嬗变词语感召下的协同合作,改变了此城的街道,给它们带来了长远的、可怕的干净。2016 年秋冬,在 51 摊项目进行过程中,上海街头的摊贩数量随着城市管制的新政,以及前所未有地加紧的执行力度而迅速减少。这是意料之外的情况,直接导致行进至 39 篇时便缺乏素材可取。及至出版,书中的很多摊贩已不得再见。摊贩把自己的生意建立在流动中人和人的短暂信任之上,却成为城市治理下手最轻易、效果最明显的解决对象。摊的消失也是我们这些「路人」自身一部分的消失。它们带走了路人对街道的知觉、权利和对权利的知觉。

2021 年,作者在再次修订了原作中的一些文字细节,并从当年的记录中打捞出了两则摊作为「拾遗」,并增加了疫情后上海街头的四个摊,令这 2021 版的《51 摊》具有了「对未来或可盼望」的面向。


作为仍在「享受」街道生活的你我而言,我们都是这一幕幕 51 摊场景的参与者,而非它们出现或消逝的局外人。在某种视角下,摊贩既像是先行者,又像是城市的征兆。
——本书编辑 陈韵
——本书译者 安明实
——本书设计师 Mira Ying



尺寸:98 × 270 mm
总页数:156 页

联合出版:51 人(上海)、李俊峰@水獭文化(香港)
2021 版,2021 月 10 月于香港出版
ISBN: 978-988-76032-9-0