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Taking Stock of Power: An Other View of the Berlin Wall

By Arwed Messmer and Annett Gröschner

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Samuel Fosso


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Photography and Transformation in Urban China

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At this time, 94 percent of the Chinese population lives in big cities, all located in the eastern part of the country. The other parts of the country have become increasingly deserted; as recently as the early 1980s, a large part of the Chinese population lived in rural areas. Such rapid urbanization was a result of the economic reforms under Deng Xiaoping (1904–1997). These initiatives were intended to stimulate the country's growth, which is why the government pushed the transformation of cities into major industrial metropolises, especially in the 1990s.

The transformation of urban space is an important topic in Chinese art, and many artists today use photography to depict the structures of the modern megalopolis. It seems that this medium is perhaps better suited than others to reproduce the smooth facades and outsize dimensions of the monumental skyscrapers. Such images, however, are not new: photographers have dealt with the theme of urbanization since the advent of the medium. Charles Marville (1813–1879), for example, famously recorded the modernizing transformation of Paris in the nineteenth century, stewarded by Baron Georges-Eugène Haussmann, which the French poet Charles Baudelaire (1821–1827) often lamented:

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About the Walther Collection

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The Walther Collection is an art foundation dedicated to the critical understanding of historical and contemporary photography and related media.

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RongRong's Diary: Beijing East Village (2019) presents an expansive selection of striking photographs, together with first person accounts from his private diary, which RongRong made between 1993 and 1998 within the artistic community known as Beijing East Village.


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