Ordos | Kambashi in abandoned cities
This december, dutch architect Willemien van Duijn published a wonderful book about abandoned cities around the world. I was more than happy to participate to it with one of my shot the new giant housing complex being build in Ordos / Kambashi. If you are in Holland, please check this book, the other photos are quite incredible as well. You can have some preview on the NRC ( Dutch newspaper ) photo section here:
and more snapshot of the book taken with my phone here:
Chongqing Is Often regarded as one the shinning new exemple of central chinese urban megapolis… but is it ? As most of the people migrating to the city come from a farming background, most of them have no level of education. They are suddenly being relocated in high rises and apartment complex on the border and in new development district of Chongqing. Once relocated, they are doing the only they know how to do well – farming.
While the center of chongqing seems like a forest of high rises and modern buildings taking over old part of the cities, you don’t have to drive very far before seeing every piece of land being used for agriculture purposes. From the garden of complexes, to the border of construction sites, every piece of ground is good to be work on. This comes as a major concern for the modernisation and development of the city, as half of the population is actually doing agriculture work.
During a commissioned work in Rio de Janeiro, I have decided to stay a few more days with Motion Designer Artist Abram Hodgens to do a project of our own . As we will reveal more about the specificity of this project on this blog later, we’ve been documenting the largest Favela of Rio : Rocinha. In the past year, many of Rio Favelas have been “Pacified”. Meaning that the police took control of the inside of the favela where no Drug Lord or weapon is suppose to be found. The traffic continues but at a much smaller scale. It is really interesting to walk around freely about what used to be some of the most dangerous district of South America – here are a few iphone snapshots of those incredible inner cities.
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:
In San Francisco, a new gallery is soon opening its door to young photographers. I am glad to have my series “Urban Shift” soon displayed there and featured on their website. Prints are sold on limited edition and various sizes through the website directly so check it out and take a look at all the artists featured in there:
When I first arrived in shanghai in 2005, I lived in the Jing’An district. The district is located around a Jing’An temple, a modern temple located around a luxurious shopping mall. At that time, everything south of the temple was made of old 1980′s building where small shops and restaurants could be found. In a little more than 5 years, this whole stretch has become a giant construction site for luxurious hotel and high rise buildings. Looking it back at the past, I am having a hard time even remembering how this district looked exactly when I first arrived. As the district is still in construction, it is amazing to observe how shanghai is rising vertically.
When I first stepped in Chongqing two years ago, I had the same feeling as when I first arrived in Manhattan from new wark airport in 1995… A feeling of entering in a mysterious and magical place… I felt in love with the city immediately. A couple of month after, my first contribution for Le Monde was an opening photo of the city. Since then, I have been back three times and I continue to be fascinated by it. To my eyes, it is a representation of the recent chinese history in one place at one moment. From the mafia era to the red era, the city is full of mysteries and stories that are waiting to be told… From the central clock tower, surrounded by giant shopping malls and luxury shops, you can slowly walk down from this upper part of town to the river at the lowest level. This downgrade will also take you through all the different level of the society. Near the clock, new and modern compounds are home to the rich… As you walk down, the living standarts are going down as well… and in the lowest part, near the river, electricity and windows become a luxury…. In some part, some strange old temples are trying to resist the rapid development of the city -in other giant holes suddenly appears in between high rises building and are waiting to be purchased by some developer…
As I will pursue my work in this city, this issue is bringing you an introduction to the city. In the full screen gallery, I have inserted some of the large format urban photos of the city, mostly taken from or towards the river banks who define the cities. I recommend you to purchase this edition of AA ( L architecture d’Aujourd’hui july / august edition ) and read as well the excellent article written by french architects from Archiplein agency in shanghai. Its a full 10 page spread !!!
please check the FULL PAGE PORTFOLIO on CHONGQING by clicking here !
Preview the full article or purchase the electronic version by clicking here