Shanghai demolition | Potemkin Paradox

Hanzhong subway station area | June 13, 2012 [click above to enlarge]
Hanzhong subway station area | June 13, 2012 [click above to enlarge]

On Wednesday June 13, MovingCities, along with German architect-photographer Arnd Dewald, went for an evening walk around the Hanzhong subway station area 汉中路站 [Line 1] in Shanghai 上海. After strolling with Arnd Dewald earlier in April around the Xiaonanmen Station 小南门站 area [Line 9], a second installment.
Night shots [large format selection] and introduction to the Potemkin Paradox.

Here is a map if you want to go and check out the area:

Hanzhong subway station area | GoogleMaps
Hanzhong subway station area | GoogleMaps

The area we scanned was a small pocket of what was left over from a low-rise neighborhood. At the perimeter of the site, some houses are still standing, a bit of business is going on and in evening times the locals lounge around the street.

More than often, architectural and urban analysts describing China’s cities resort to comparisons such as Potemkin villagefake settlements purportedly erected at the direction of Russian minister Grigory Potemkin in order to fool Empress Catherine II during her visit to Crimea in 1787 – to describe newly erected urban districts where seemingly nobody lives [further evidence China’s Potemkin Cities (2010), Potemkin China, Empty Skyscrapers, Cargo Cult Cultures (2011) or Potemkin visits (2012)]. In the past we coined the term ‘Potemkin preservation‘ when confronted with the destruction of the hutongs in Beijing 北京 and as a response to the news that Prince Charles takes on China to save Ming dynasty houses from Beijing’s concrete carbuncles.
Does anyone have any updates on Prince Charles China-adventures?

But the Potemkin-strategy should not only be applied to reasons of erecting facades, so to create imaginary worlds. The riddle can also be reversed. Today, we introduce the Potemkin Paradox: the contradictory state of the rapidly changing city that leaves its front facades intact so to obscure the destruction that is taking place behind it. Once we walked into this small pocket, we found hollowness, emptiness, traces of trucks that had recently moved in and smashed the settlement into a landscape of bricks and debris.

While strolling around, Arnd told to go and check out the work of photographer Peter Bialobrzeski. We did and hope you do the same, as an intro see his Nail Houses and Neontigers.

Click on some images below so to enlarge them.
As always, all our pictures are shot with a NIKOND90.

Hanzhong subway station area | June 13, 2012
Hanzhong subway station area | June 13, 2012

Pictures by movingcities.org

THANKS Arnd Dewald

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