Canal Projects Presents Inaugural Library Residency

Visual Arts

Canal Projects Presents Inaugural Library Residency With Shanzhai Lyric and Their Fictional Office Canal Street Research Association

On View September 29, 2022 to April 23, 2023

Shanzhai Lyric’s Canal Street Research Association takes up residence in Canal Project’s subterranean library. Books and artifacts accumulate on the shelves, here featuring a facsimile of one of Lee Lozano’s “Tool” drawings.

New York, October 27 2022. Canal Projects is proud to feature a rotating series of local residencies by artists, writers, and organizations in the lower-level library to reflect on New York City’s diverse cultural fabric. For its inaugural program, Canal Projects will host poetic research unit Shanzhai Lyric, with their fictional office Canal Street Research Association.

Established in 2015, Shanzhai Lyric, led by the artists Ming Lin and Alexandra Tatarsky, investigates global trade networks, informal markets, and the poetics of counterfeit goods. 山寨, or “shanzhai,” means “counterfeit” in contemporary Chinese usage, but translates literally to “mountain hamlet.” This makes reference to an enclave on the outskirts of empire where bandits abscond with goods to redistribute among those on the margins. In 2020, Shanzhai Lyric founded Canal Street Research Association in an empty storefront on Canal Street, New York City’s counterfeit epicenter, using this site as a base from which to delve into the cultural and material ecologies of the street and its long history as a place that probes the limits of authorship and ownership.

Responding to waves of gentrification and displacement, Canal Street Research Association occupies various disused spaces, accumulating stories and artifacts gifted and gleaned from Canal Street’s community of artisans, retailers, vendors, and inhabitants to create a portrait of the block. Now, Canal Street Research Association has gone underground, using Canal Projects’ subterranean library as an opportunity for further investigations into hidden histories. Taking cues from Canal Projects’ restored “illuminated walkways” overhead—the glass and cast-iron sidewalks designed in the early twentieth century to provide light to basement workers—Canal Street Research Association will explore the literal and metaphoric undercurrents of Canal Street, from basement factories, to counterfeit warehousing and escape routes, to the massage parlors and covert nightlife enabled by the semi-licit activities of the street.

Illuminated sidewalks provided light to basement factory workers. Image via SoHo Memory Project

Throughout their six-month residency (September 2022 through April 2023), Canal Street Research Association will play host to a series of after-hours screenings and conversations. The library is open for viewing and consultation by visitors during Canal Projects’ regular hours of operation (Tuesday through Saturday, 12 – 6 pm), with office hours by appointment. Public-facing programs organized by Canal Street Research Association will address the currents of water, waste, and labor that underpin the long history and rich cultures of Canal Street and the surrounding marshy ecology.

“Before Canal Street was a street, it was a canal,” says Canal Street Research Association, “The natural creek was dug out to channel the contaminated waters of nearby Collect Pond into the rivers that surround Manhattan. But the stench of sewage and industrial run-off was too strong, and the canal was covered up to form Canal Street. Nonetheless, water still flows beneath these sidewalks. We trace buried flows to see where they lead and what they reveal.”

Honoring the natural strata and cultural legacy that make Canal Street, Canal Projects is proud to host and support the work of Canal Street Research Association, and to build on their work to strengthen the diverse communities of one of Manhattan’s oldest and busiest commercial districts. To learn more about Shanzhai Lyric’s Canal Street Research Association program and office hours visit us at

Currently on view:

September 29th – December 17th – PRAY by Korakrit Arunanondchai and Alex Gvojic.


Thursday, December 1st at 6pm – Basement Cinema: Outlaws of the Marsh Screening, introduced by Canal Street Research Association

Basement Cinema is Canal Street Research Association’s after-hours underground cinema in homage to the legacy of Canal Street kung-fu movie houses. This first screening kicks off a winter/spring season of programming around marshes, counterfeits, corruption, and underground poetics.

Outlaws of the Marsh (dir. Chang Cheh, 125 min) is based on the classic Chinese bandit tale The Water Margin, considered to be the Chinese version of Robin Hood, in which outlaws rebel against government greed and tyranny in the marshes/margins of Mount Liang. Here, bootlegs function as a mode of innovation and commentary that destabilize the very concept of a single original author or owner.

Thursday, December 8th at 7pm – Tyler Coburn: Solitary
This is a performative presentation of artist and writer Tyler Coburn’s latest book. Solitary is a collective artwork and experiment in site-specific writing that gathers a collection of texts written at a wellness center in South Korea known as the Happitory. Solitary explores the intertwined relationship between sensory deprivation, monastic life, the wellness industry, the prison-industrial complex, and the history of solitude.

Additional winter/spring programming to be announced at a later date

About Canal Projects
Canal Projects is a nonprofit contemporary art institution dedicated to supporting forward-thinking international artists at pivotal moments in their careers. Through production, exhibition, and research Canal Projects intends to foster artistic practices that challenge and reflect on the current moment.

Canal Projects
351 Canal Street,
New York, NY 10013
Hours of operation
Tuesday – Saturday, 12-6pm