Visiting the city we called home for almost 12 years is nothing short of strange at first. But within a day or two I felt the streets call me back with their charm, unique flair and warmth of the people. So little of the old city is left as the large construction projects drive forward leaving bits and pieces of the beautiful old alleys around the city. As I walk around and find huge empty lots and big buildings on the sites of my favorite alleys, I realize that all my photography over the years in Shanghai has been about recording history and vanishing alleys that are never to come back again…
When faced with a hot issue in the world like guns and the recent school shooting, it is a good idea to look at the simple facts. What are guns? Why do we have them? How did it all begin?
The simple truth is that they are human fashioned killing machines. That is their sole purpose, a metal object designed to project at strong speed another metal object with the purpose of puncturing the body of another human or animal and to cause injury or death. That simple fact should halt all arguments about having them with children, near children or having them at all.
I listen the news about Syria and all the children that died in the least week to benefit a recent group of arms dealers who benefit each time there is conflict and who thrive from the misery of the less fortunate. They try to romanticize the issue and muddle it so we won’t comprehend, but it is very simple, isn’t it?
Power, greed, wealth and the personal need for self gratification without counting any cost.
Anonymia, Greek for nameless, the state of us urban dwellers to each other. This suggests that our names define us and and who we have become in so many different ways. Being a stranger in the big city can be so comforting to those of us who opt for this lifestyle. We can be who we want to be if we choose to; those that don’t know us cannot fix us with their preconceptions, and this gives us room to grow and to change if we are so inclined.
smoking his way through the last hot days of summer
Each time I start a new walk into one of the old alleys of Shanghai, I feel as though I am entering another world where simple life, community feeling, tradition and open communication thrive. There is a charm to the old alleys and a distinct sense of nostalgia that makes them so attractive and keeps me coming back. As long as they are there, the spirit and essence of Shanghai continue to live on.
The old alleys of Shanghai with their unique way of life, tradition and charm are slowly disappearing to give way to the fast invading modernism of this great metropolis. This little boy and I had a brief staring contest, and he won.
In today’s world, pollution is discussed in terms like high or low, toxic or just unhealthy, almost accepting it as a part of everyday life and forgetting to ask the basic question: why do we have to live with it?
a witness of the whirlwind of changes that took over the glamorous city
Behind the modern facade of Shanghai and the fashionable lifestyle of its rich, is a world of tradition hidden in the city’s old alleys. Every week when I visit these neighborhoods, I find less and less of them left. The city is changing so rapidly and the new has no room for the old. Modernization is consuming tradition and Starbucks cups are quickly replacing the famous tea containers of the Shanghainese. A paradise for street photographers, I feel so lucky to have lived in Shanghai as long as I have.
In Qibao, and old area of Shanghai, is a neighborhood(if you can call it that) of green lanes. Confronting realities wait there behind each door and in front of some where young women prepare to sell themselves for a living. As much as this practice is as old as civilization itself, it remains heartbreaking to witness people’s daughters going through this to survive. And most painful of all was seeing a little girl forced to grow up in that strange world of green lanes.
Sometimes the world has this strange way of sliding by as thought we are sailing smoothly on a still lake. It allows us to watch time pass in slow motion and a great stillness embraces us. Those are the photographic moments I treasure and wish for every day in the big fast city.