Xing Danwen

This week I seem to have taken on an interest in the replication and distortion of reality in contemporary photography. Xing Danwen’s ongoing series, Urban Fiction, depicts characters against architectural models.

On first sight, I thought it was one of those overdone tilt-shift lens tricks until I chanced upon her website, where she actually included the details for each image.

© Xing Danwen
© Xing Danwen
© Xing Danwen

© Xing Danwen
© Xing Danwen
© Xing Danwen

From her statement:

The idea of this work was forged when I was traveling around Europe by train in 2003. After being in so many cities in the world, I realized that globalization has made urban landscapes everywhere similar and blurred the boundaries between them. So often, “here” can be anywhere. I have brought my vision and perspective to these urban spaces.

The architectural structures that I photographed are all maquettes made to promote real-estate developments that are being planned in China today. Some of the buildings already exist, and others will soon begin construction. When you face these models showing such a variety of different spaces and think about the life-styles associated with them, you start to wonder: is this the picture of life today? Do we really live in this kind of space and environment?

Once again, globalization is the prime motivation behind an artist’s work. It’s not hard to notice that it is a topic that many Asians have chosen to dwell upon – a decry over Westernizing values, loss of one’s culture and the alienation of the individual despite increasing connectivity.

From Cornell’s Chinese Avant-garde Art Archive:

With this stratagem, Xing Danwen attracts our attention on the consequences this important upheaval the China urban universe is currently subjected to: the disappearance of the inheritance and the references to the former generations, this new world of cold buildings where the human appears terribly ridiculous and alone.

Personally, having grown up with the effects of globalization, I feel passive towards it. In a country where things are constantly changing, I am a stranger to my own culture and customs. I am sure many of my peers are similar, some with even more Westernized outlooks. I wonder what are the implications that us (and the younger ones) face in the future, and what our children will go through in the future.

Other interesting works by Xing can be seen on her personal site. There is also an interesting interview on her earlier works and how she progressed from her photojournalistic roots.