Inside the Slaughterhouse~ Shanghai

at-the-eye-of-the-storm-shanghaidreams-half-forgotten-shanghaii-spy-with-my-little-eye-shanghailost-in-the-maze-shanghaipeace-inside-the-nothingness-shanghairegret-shanghaivertigo-shanghai

1933, a maze of amazingly original architecture, flying bridges, spiral staircases, dimly lit corridors, an eerie feeling of disorientation, and a must location to challenge any aspiring photographer. I love returning to this building again and again, that primarily served as a cattle slaughterhouse after its construction in 1933 in Hongkou,  later a cold storage facility, and a medicine factory among other uses; it now hosts creative spaces, restaurants and shops as well as a few bewildered photographers. The possibilities here are endless to create, dream and compose.

 

Modernization at any cost

progress will wait for no one~ Shanghai's condemned alleys

progress will wait for no one~ Shanghai’s condemned alleys

Shanghai, the pride of China, races towards its future, bejeweled with glitzy sky scrapers, glowing with billions of energy consuming lights, employing the largest work force in the world, day and night, 7 days a week and waiting for no one to be ready for this epic change. In neighborhoods like this one, people are given very little notice before their homes get demolished giving room to bigger, more modern and more expensive buildings. The people themselves are moved to housing outside the city to start a new life with little character, with no traditions and with not much choice. Every week that I visit these alleys, I find that more and more of them has disappeared…

 

Day 17~ November 17th~ New York

Soho~ NYC

There was a time in the late 80’s and early 90’s when Soho and its converted lofts and warehouses, was home to art and artists that were seeking a place far enough from the mundane to be able to create. It was a time when this area felt so unique, so inspiring and so special. Actors, artists, writers, musicians, dancer, they all moved there and lived in wonderful anonymity. Then commercialism arrived and we watched it slowly transform this area into a huge faceless mall. And as Art appears to be shy, it fled and found new areas to inhabit. Nolita was one new home and later Chelsea and the meat packing district. Because somehow art and commercialism cannot be good roommates.

Day 13~ November 13th~ New York

there are no branches without roots

When I think of New York, I picture many little streams that have their sources all over the planet and I see them flowing and coming together to make one river that is Manhattan. Branches appear to flow too in a very organic way starting with the small roots that come and join at the trunk only to branch out again like tributaries of a river. So many different roots come together to make the massive tree that New York is today and this variety is what makes it ever so special.

Day 4~ November 4th~ New York

like a phoenix

New York, it rises from its ashes each and every time to prove time and again that ‘when there is a will there is a way’. And New York’s will is not like any other, it the combined strength of warriors that gather from all over the world powered by their vision and their wish to stand out from the pack. I remember living through the attacks of September 11th and seeing such a gloom that I thought this powerful city would never recover from. But it did, and it always will because of the will of its people. Yes, it is a city built to withstand the storms of the world to evolve into something better and greater.

Day 11~ May 11th~ Cambodia

monks at the temple of Bayon

The Bayon, an exquisite temple of great significance. Constructed in the 12th century to face exactly east and roads lead to it directly from the gates at each of the city’s cardinal points, this Buddhist shrine still vibrates with accumulated potency. I visited it a little before sunrise and found myself alone safe for the monks that never stop praying on the grounds of the beautiful temple. Carved with great detail and attention, adorned with many stone faces, built on many intricate levels, this place is haunting and shrouded with mystery.

Day 3~ May 3rd~ Cambodia

timeless

Upon meeting the Khmer temples of Cambodia for the first time and walking between their columns and galleries, I felt as though time had become elastic, no longer confined to my usual linear perception of it…

Angkor Wat, the largest Hindu temple in the world, now a Buddhist temple, still in use religiously, haunting with its beauty, strange with its sense of mystery, is a sight to behold. The sense of majesty of this temple points to a religious dedication and an elaborate vision that is so unique. It was always a dream of mine to visit Cambodia and stand where I finally stood to take this photograph, and the experience was even more impressive than I could imagine all those years.

Day Three Hundred Four, November 22, 2011

in flight

Life these days is becoming a struggle to base oneself in the known, in scientific certainties, in facts confirmed in Wikipedia, in information validated by experts on television, on twitter, in newspapers,… we just need to have everything open and clear with no unpleasant surprises. But what about life’s mysteries? Do we still give room for those? Or do we miss them in our rush after the next confirmed fact?

I was walking the busy streets of Shanghai today when I felt something stop me in my tracks. Not just me, but a few other people too. There were birds tracing a circle around this building again and again and again, like a sacred dance for more than 20 minutes. The same circle, which was more like a spiral, and it was the most awe inspiring sight for me in the city that day. I felt a great calm come over me as I watched them and I knew that this phenomenon will forever be part of of my mystery box, my collection of unknowns, to marvel at and to mystery dream about.