Joy City

These photos we taken near a shopping mall in Shanghai, called Joy City. The shopping mall has all kinds of shops from global luxury brands, and even a ferris wheel on the roof. This area, next to it, is one of the many old low-rise neighbourhoods that’s demolished in Shanghai, as in other big cities around the world. We often look at those things from a macro-level. Maps, or shots from the sky for an overview. Statistics on population density. Powerpoint presentations on why the new skyscraper or another shopping mall is a good investment.

But when I walked through the area, I could see all the personal memories people had made. A deck of cards: how many times were those played with, and by who? Shoe soles: who had walked on this and to which places? There were still many alleys intact with tyres, bicycles, bins and clothes astray. Windows barred with planks and worn chairs on terraces. I wanted to ‘break in’ to discover more. The architectural style of the buildings varied lots from door to door: some had carved ornaments, others were improvised, but each house unique. And I felt a kind of sadness with the idea of all of this being replaced by some uniform glass-and-steel skyscraper to house a multinational, adding to the sameness around the world. This, to me, is why photography is important. To document the passing of time, so that in the future we can still go back to it, to cherish it.