Dystopia | Destruction and Reconstruction of a City


Pingdu, China 2013

One of the benefits of being commissioned to document significant buildings and projects in China, is the incredible access that I get. This serves a twofold interest: one is documenting the project at hand, and another is to get a chance to use this privileged access to photograph some of the exorbitant scale of Chinese style redevelopment.
The city of Pingdu was entirely razed to make way for a ‘New City’, with ten times the population. Symbolically, a lone commercial street was left standing: to maintain an artificial sense or normalcy?
The Chinese are extremely sensitive to this perception of their urban renewal programs by westerners. The impossible access I had for days to these cranes and worksites gave me the opportunity to document in depth the scale and breadth of the dystopic transitional wasteland that, soon, will be a brand new asepticized city that eclipses western proportions and, even ambitions.
This photograph required me to set up my medium format camera amongst some precarious but sturdy bamboo scaffoldings. The tripod was held in place with a mix of climbing gear and traditional scaffolding systems. It was a real pleasure working with the locals within these scaffoldings, and being able to work together despite the barriers in language. This is one of my favorite aspects of this work. The preamble to creating an image is often as interesting as the image itself . . .