Have you felt lately as though you keep on moving from one task to the next, from one place to another as if chased by your own shadow? It is as if we are all gripped by a fear of being caught standing still. We plan our year before it even starts and we project into our future leaving very little room for the unexpected. Our lives are preplanned and dictated in our phones that link to all our other devices that we allow to remind us that we are not free but bound inside our own self created prisons.
Behind and right next door to the glitz and glamour of Shanghai, real people live their real lives in the old lanes. The first shock you get walking through the very old parts of town is the extreme narrowness of the alleys and the very small size of the overcrowded rooms people call home. It is quite a wake up call that I make sure I take myself through at least once a week so as not to be fooled by the fake reality that expats tend to exist in in a place like Shanghai.
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.