Growing Chaos (2017, 2018)

An ongoing project that records the development of my hometown

“Construction in progress”

“Construction in progress”

Zhangjiagang is "a small city that's two hours' drive from Shanghai", as I often describe to those whoever shows the slightest interest. But it's actually not so small - it has a growing population of over a million residents; calling it 'city' is also an insensitive generalization - its current name indicates it's a port (it does have one) and, it used to be called Shazhou county (meaning 'shoals') because it was built on them 56 years ago.

Growing up, I had been proud of my hometown's economic development, especially about the fact that we won UN-Habitat Scroll of Honour Award in 2008 - a reward for cities who made great progress in improving its citizens' living conditions. However, in recent years, I find my pride lost bit by bit every time I return: when I cycle past knots and knots of newly-built empty buildings, residential or commercial; when I saw a woman picking vegetables under claws of a tractor; when I saw a silver-haired grandma collecting clothes on her balcony, which sat atop an abandoned first floor, as the building was ready to be demolished for something newer and supposedly better. I kept wondering about the contradiction between the development and the people who have to adapt to the following changes.

In this project, I keep track of the development of an old factory site in the outskirts of Zhangjiagang. Next to the broken brick walls and signs warning about underground natural gas, local residents have turned the land into their vegetable gardens.

Fields I (2017.12)

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Fields II (2018.12)

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