When talking about recent events with young chongqing residents, I heard a young girl saying laughingly” at least the one good thing that Bo Xilai did, was to put chongqing on the map”
My personal history with chongqing goes back to the summer of 2009 when I embarked with a large format camera to capture urban landscapes of secondary cities in China. As I stepped in this gigantic metropolis for the first time, I had a limited knowledge of its history and no idea of what was happening deep down in the streets of this city. Since then, the extraordinary amount of stories that saw the light could be compared to an HBO TV series. Before 2009, the city had one of the most powerful organize crime groups in the country. A few weeks after my return from Chongqing, the leader of the mafia, a middle age woman, got arrested with most of her partners in crime. A few month later, the son of a famous revolutionary, Bo Xilai, was nominated to put back the city in the right direction. He launched what are famous policies from ” Sing Red” to “Strike the black” to get rid of the organized crimes and to go back to a neo maoist culture. All went too well and a few month ago , when Wang lijun, the police chief and vice mayor escaped to the American Embassy in Chengdu, another disastrous chapter of chongqing life was seeing the light. Conspiracies, Bribing, illegal detentions and possible murder plots are at the center of the Bo Xilai administration who has been dismissed. The central government is now reversion its praises and pointing the finger towards the “red prince” .
But Chongqing stories are going far more back than just a few years ago. In 1929 Chongqing became a municipality of the Republic of China and was even a temporary capital for Chiang Kai Sheck during the sino-japanese war. Build in a mountainous region, the 2 rivers going through the city gives it a highly 3 dimensional looks. Since the beginning of the Three Georges Dam project, the city has seen one of the fastest urbanisation in China with the arrival of many people coming from the drown cities. To accomodate the new comers, the city has grown vertically on the steep sides of the river.
Since my first trip in 2009, I came back to chongqing on regular basis. While mostly shooting for magazine and newspaper ( Le Monde / New York Times / Architecture d’Aujourd’hui and a book on Architecture called Made by Chinese ), the city kept me curious and I developed a high interest in it. This is why I decided to come back here to work on a personal projects portraying this incredible place. By shooting its impersonal and violent urban growth together with the portraits of its inhabitants, I hope to give an honest portrait of city that fascinates me both by its looks and its stories.
Here are some of the first urban photos from this series under development: