Published earlier in book format, the photographs are now presented at Projekt Kordegarda in the form of large-size prints and wall projections. Thus the viewers are be able to see several dozen images of Chongqing, one of the many Chinese cities growing at an impressively and terrifyingly rapid pace, currently occupying an area equal to one third of Poland, inhabited by over 32 million people...
Ferit Kuyas, photograph from the series "City of Ambition", photo: courtesy of the artist
Ferit Kuyas's exhibition City of Ambition presents a series of photographs made between 2004 and 2008 in Chongqing, one of the world's largest and fastest growing cities.
Published earlier in book format, the photographs are now presented at Projekt Kordegarda in the form of large-size prints and wall projections. Thus the viewers are be able to see several dozen images of Chongqing, one of the many Chinese cities growing at an impressively and terrifyingly rapid pace, currently occupying an area equal to one third of Poland, inhabited by over 32 million people.
The author presents an image of the place that has nothing to do with tourist propaganda. Although we get to see slick new skyscrapers they seem to be located in a wilderness or amid lush vegetation or in the middle of infrastructure-devoid fallow. The great squares and (too) wide streets seem strangely empty. The huge viaduct, photographed by Kuyas several times, resembles the ruins of an ancient building commemorating authoritarian state structures rather than a modern highway under construction.
The pictures record a moment of transition and transformation for the landscape, architecture and social relations. Looking through Kuyas's lens, we admire the scale and grandiosity of the changes but also sense the great human and ecological cost they come at. It is not an accident that Chongqing lies close to the famous – and controversial – Three Gorges Dam.
As the author of the exhibition comments,
"City of Ambition is a visit to one of the largest cities in the world. The images aim to reflect the sheer dimensions of the cityscape. Like most of my work, this project has autobiographic roots: I got to know the city through my family who lives there. Chongqing - unknown place for most people in the western world, was granted municipal status in 1997, rather late compared to Shanghai. But the people of Chongqing are very eager to show the world and their sister cities in China who they are. Together with the booming economy, this leads to an explosion in city development. Construction sites and cranes can be seen everywhere. What is taking place resembles Manhattan in the 1920s with the construction of skyscrapers. So Stieglitz's name for Chongqing, "City of Ambition", reflects its transition. The city is located in Southwest China's region of Sichuan. The municipality is populated by approximately 32 million people. I am mostly interested in the outskirts of Chongqing, where the city can't really be seen, but rather sensed. Construction sites and places of change show metaphorical facets of the huge changes taking place in contemporary China.
The fog dominating most pictures is real. The city's nickname in China is "City of Fog". It reflects the big mystery China still is for me. After many travels it seems like the more I learn the less I know. Although this body of work definitely has a documentary component I don't understand myself as a documentalist. The ability to express my personal emotions through my images is very important for me."
Ferit Kuyas was born in Istanbul in 1955. He studied architecture and law at the University of Zurich. In 1986 he started his career in photography. He lives and works near Zurich.
The series of works City of Ambition – Fast Forward in China got published in October 2009 as a book by Schilt Publishing, Amsterdam, and Benteli Publishers, Switzerland.
Curator: Magda Kardasz.
Co-organizer: Maison de la Photographie, Lille.
Opening: November 26, 2010, at 19:00.
Exhibition runs through January 9, 2011.
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