Public Programming


Alvin Li & Chang Yuchen

Two librarians had a brief reunion in the month of May as Alvin visited New York. Prior to his trip, we reached out to our committee of friends in North America involved with book form and the artistic practice of publishing and selected some titles from them; fresh off the plane, these books have just arrived at the Asymmetry Library. We also asked our publisher friends three questions: 1. Could you introduce your publishing practice? 2. Could you describe some of the publications we acquired from you? 3. How do you imagine your publications to be shelved in a library?

These titles have just arrived in the Asymmetry library. Come read and play with them during our Open Library hours soon!

– Alvin Li and Chang Yuchen


闪亮 Shine, 無 Nothing, FREEDON, 2015-18

published by Display Distribute, folded, 21 x 29.7cm each

FREEDON (and on and on), 2019

published by Display Distribute, temporary tattoo paper & inkjet, first edition of 100, 21 x 29.7cm

Typology of Thieves, 2022

softcover, bound with a security tag, edition of 50, 21 x 29.7cm

- Could you introduce your publishing practice?

The Shanzhai Lyric archive is a growing, shifting collection of around 500 shanzhai garments adorned with experimental English text. We consider the archive to form one long poetic commentary, moving across bodies and landscapes, which we call 'Incomplete Poem'. We experiment by circulating and activating this archive through mistranslation workshops, group readings and installations of 'reading apparatuses'—site-responsive structures that invite visitors to read the garments as poems. Alongside this more spatial practice, we try to insert shanzhai lyrics into various publications as excerpts from an infinite poem we call 'Endless Garment.'

- Could you describe some of the publications we acquired from you?

Each of our mini-publications is a single page containing lyrics selected from the archive that pertain to a specific theme. We usually publish these following a period of research and use them as an opportunity to collate and distill a certain thread of thought.

Shine examines shininess as a mode of refraction and distraction, produced following a residency in Beijing.

Nothing is a publication on the generative qualities of nothingness, produced at the Stuart Hall Library in London.

Freedon contains notes on broken freedom, and was made at the Women’s Art Library, a feminist art library at Goldsmiths.

Property accompanied our exhibition looking into the entwined legacies of garment worker advocacy and cooperative housing, 'ALL PALACES ARETEMPORARY HALACES' at Abrons Arts Center.

Our most recent mini-publication is SIRENS produced for the exhibition 'Siren (some poetics)' at Amant, in tandem with a sound work we made that re-purposes anti-theft devices to create a choral structure.

Typology of Thieves inaugurates a new project by Shanzhai Lyric compiling an archive of famous shoplifters and heroic thieves throughout history. The first in the series pays homage to Elizabeth B. Phelps, a notable suffragette who was apprehended for lifting a handful of candy from a Macy’s department store. Her legacy lives on in a popular children’s hand game. Phelp’s portrait is featured alongside an essay by shoplifting scholar Silvia Bombardini.

Bookmark/Tag we imagine the care tags as archival labels that can also be bookmarks.

- How do you imagine them being shelved in a library?

We imagine the mini-publications hung from clips, like wet underwear drying in the sun, in thematically relevant areas. Thinking partners for this project have included Edouard Glissant, Luce Irigiray, Byung Chul-Han, Yu Hua, Emily Apter, Lisa Robertson, Stuart Hall, Henri Michaux, Jose Esteban Muñoz, Jack Halberstam, Bernadette Corporation, Tom Holert, Aleksei Kruchenykh, and Hito Steyerl, among others.


Yi Xin Tong: NYC Fishing Journal, 2019

published by Gong Press, assorted printed matters in an acrylic container, signed edition of 15, 14.6 × 34.3 ×17.8cm, on loan, courtesy of Gong Press

Chang Yuchen: Ten Nights of Dreams, 2018

published by Gong Press, a printed scroll and an MP3 player, signed edition of 30, package size: 15 x 20cm, on loan, courtesy of Gong Press

Chang Yuchen: Coral Dictionary Vol.1, 2019-2022 (paperback), 2022

published by Gong Press, sewn bound, folded jacket, open edition, 6.5 x 13 x 3cm

- Could you introduce your publishing practice?

Gong Press is a heartfelt and dedicated endeavor by the three of us (Qianfan Gu, Shu Huang, Yuki He). I consider it to be a slow side project with our unwavering commitment. Personally, I balance my day jobs in order to fully immerse myself in the joy of working on projects at Gong Press.

- Could you describe some of the publications we acquired from you?

The first two publications are object-books: One of them features a long scroll and an MP3 player, while the other takes the form of a container box reminiscent of a fish tank. We translated our collaborating artists' intimate life experiences and emotions into something that's physically tangible. Our most recent Coral Dictionary is meticulously designed with the intention of catering to the specific needs and preferences of one person.

- How do you imagine them being shelved in a library?

The first two publications can be quite demanding for the readers. I hope the librarian and readers could handle them as if they were a treasure box shared by a close friend. The Coral Dictionary is meant to serve as a practical tool book. I envision it being shelved and utilized in a way that aligns with its purpose—readers should feel free to utilize it as they would any other essential reference material.


A compilation of Fan Wu’s publishing works including Fan’s monographs, anthologies Fan edited and anthologies that include Fan’s writings

- Could you introduce your publishing practice?

The core of my publishing practice is anthologies of writing that come out of multi-month workshops, where a small group sits and works through a theme or set of questions together. Some examples include: What are the linguistic forms that the writing of grief takes? How much weight can the concept of a 'Self' bear? What power grants us the capacity to deviate from a literal translation of a poem or piece of prose? I love the energy of a group dynamic being forged, and forged alongside an (unfinishable) project that arouses everyone’s passions. I love the process of thinking-doing-feeling in a carefully-balanced atmosphere of just enough structure to potentiate revelatory tangents.

My 'solo' writings, too, are highly collaborative: and that collaborator could be Du Fu or it could be the body of work of a dear friend; it could be documentation of an artist’s exhibition or the myth of Icarus. Otherness — the kind you can lean into, get absorbed in — makes me feel at home and safe enough to spin off into stranger and riskier directions.

- Could you describe some of the publications we acquired from you?

Hoarfrost & Solace

I chose a set of Tang Dynasty poems and translated each of them three times, passing my broken Chinese through a process of 'prismatic translation.' Can the imperfection intrinsic to translation be a drive rather than an obstacle? Published by espresso books.

Storm Work: An Icarus Opera in Three Movements

I posit the Oedipal but the Icarian complex – a new set of mommy-daddy neuroses that I fished out of my infantile narcissism just for you. Takes the form of a pre-crumpled pamphlet. Sing these words aloud in an improvised melody. Published by Slow Poetry in America.

Mourning Anthology

This anthology came out of a three-month workshop where we read Stéphane Mallarmé and Bhanu Khapil, watched Michel Antonioni and Barbara Loden, and sat in public parks or each other’s homes immersed in the paradox of speaking of and writing through the unspeakability of grief. Published by Art Metropole.

Spectral Reveries Vol. 1: Selected Translations

In which translation is a platform for collaboration, even if your collaborator is a medieval Frenchman. In the words of Michael Cavuto's unfaithful translation of Noccolai, translation itself is a 'sidereal harmony / The endeavor of unity / or division.' Six small poems by six translators. Published by IMPULSE[b].

- How do you imagine your publications shelved in a library?

Open faced, ready to the touch, splayed across a table. Beneath the table is a large pad of paper for collective annotations. The text keeps unfurling with newer additions, like how the Library of Babel doubles as an afterhours nightclub past 2am.