Vanishing Point: How to disappear in China without a trace

by Susanne Bürner

cover of Vanishing Point: How to disappear in China without a trace

The publication Vanishing Point: How to disappear in China without a trace is an artist book by Susanne Bürner, which is a manual written in Chinese on how to disappear from society.

How-to-guides have a long tradition and became a genre on their own. In 1971, Aby Hoffman published “Steal this Book” which is a manual on how to survive without money, starting by stealing this very manual. In many cases, this form of “How-to” has been used by activists as a means to comment on social issues.

Today, in light of recent events, the word of “vanishing” became more important. Rather than being objected to someone else making you disappear, this manual proposes disappearance on your own terms which might be a weapon against enforced disappearance.

The content of the book has been developed by the artist’s research process during her residency period in China. The advice given is partially fed by the result of numerous discussions about the different roles of people in contemporary Chinese society; partially it presents an adaptation of the original text version for America to the situation in China today. The American version has been published previously since 2006.

The information in the manual is open to be not completed by only this book, but It is rather a collection of practical advice which can be extended and should be discussed further for containing more content by potential contributors on the web.

The book is designed so that it can be easily carried with you. Apart from being a manual, the publication could be seen as a travelogue of someone on the run, illustrated with the photographs of the Chinese provinces they may pass through. This person is physically part of the world but has vanished administratively. They are in a permanent state of limbo between visibility and invisibility.

About the artist
Susanne Bürner is an artist based in Berlin and London. Her work circles around the representation of virtual space and mainly comprises videos, artist’s books and photographs. She has widely exhibited: 2010 Temporäre Kunsthalle Berlin, 2009 South London Gallery (solo), 2008 Goethe-Instute Hong Kong (solo), 2008 OCAT Shenzhen, 2008 Galerie Giti Nourbakhsch Berlin (solo), 2006 Busan Biennale among others. At the moment she’s working on a project about snakes’ anticaption of earthquakes consisting of a video and an artist’s book.