Curated by Jean Louis Maubant
Curated by Jean Luis Maubant
The Southern China metropolis is certainly one of the most representative urban faces of the twenty-first century. The expression of a new spatial condition in the Pearl River Delta region (PRD) is clearly related to the notion of development (economic and industrial) and embedded in specific cycles of production, distribution and consumption. Therefore, these dynamic and multi-dimensional forces are to be explored and qualified.
As part of our research on the PRD region, Underneath explores new urban fields under the structure of Guangzhou’s superhighway ring. Superficially, this place seems like a 2D collage yet, in its deep complexity, it is more a ubiquitous piling of heterogeneous places. Each one, like a deteriorating page in a book, refers to a different mode of territorial unity, of socio-economic distribution, of political conflicts and of identifying symbolism.
Underneath is 63 kilometers of superhighway owned by Hong Kong developer Hopewell Holding and CEO Sir Gordon Wu, a private empire that controls the economy, the geography and ultimately the culture of the region.
Underneath questions zones of contact and zones of conflict. It is China at its best. Environment and landscape are transformed under a multitude of pressures: the simultaneous presence of farms, plastic factories, traditional villages, new villas, stadiums and shopping malls. This transformation presents a contrast that extends far beyond conventional urban and rural dichotomies.
Underneath is now a linear platform for migrants to invent a new geography of living. Along this artificial geographic line, the superhighway introduces a striking perspective potential scenarios.
Underneath works in the very same way as a lift in a tower, with congestion and acceleration. Here, time and occasion are more important than the places traversed.
Underneath is a powerful planning instrument, with no particular concern for spatial sequence or articulation, its extended line constitutes an effective strategy for colonization, transforming the environment in a series of poly-nuclear construction systems. In this unstable context, its physical and temporal scale is measured by the superhighway itself.
Underneath, through its images and text, ultimately challenges our sense of place as it is pressured by constant transformation and destabilization.