HETEROSCAPES is a portrait of China’s contemporary urban spaces and landscapes in a period of intensified transition. Throughout the past 20 years of an economic boom, this transition has shifted the social power structure and subverted once common values, dramatically altering the functions and even the concreteness of landscapes and urban structures.
In these striking photographs, simultaneous demolition and construction erase the memories of the land and implant new but unrecognizable values. The absence of historical uniformity and rational planning both symbolize and impel a chaos of social values and increasing materialism: a 2000-year-old city is razed and disappears; contradictory architectures arise beside each other; an ancient temple is protected from water raised by dam construction; suburban communities spring up through random overdevelopment; centers for fertilization and for parentage identification stand side by side; religious and alien commercial icons weave an unpredictable visual texture. The China of these photographs is a battlefield of transition. The figures of contemporary landscapes and urban structures not only represent the current reality but also disclose the capricious potential desires of an expanding society.
The exhibition is inspired by Michel Foucault. Foucault employs metaphor of a mirror for his concept of heterotopia, the alternative region between real spaces and an imagined utopia. As a conjunction between reality and unreality, heterotopia exposes existing conditions and reveals new illusions. These photographs embody the conflicting lunacy of the renovated Chinese landscape and the concealed delusion of the country’s new covetousness.
Bo Wang grew up in the 1980s in Chongqing, one of China’s largest cities and one most altered by the boom. He is now a graduate student at the School of Visual Arts in New York. “We took change for granted when I was young,” he says, “but after years away from home, with every return there’s always something new to puncture my pseudo-romantic nostalgia and show me a more complicated reality.”
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