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Image 3 from Urban Fiction Series
2004 – 2005
165 x 235 cm.
Color Photographs

Xing Danwen

Xing Danwen studied fine art at the Xi'an Academy of Fine Arts, Xi'an, China (1982-1986), obtained a bachelor's degree in fine art (painting) from the Central Academy of Fine Arts, Beijing, China (1992) and a master's degree in fine art, focusing in photography and related media, from the School of Visual Arts, New York, USA (2000). Xing Danwen has held several solo exhibitions, such as: “disCONNEXION” at the Kiang Gallery, Atlanta, USA (2004); “Urban Fiction” at Galerie Piece Unique, Paris, France (2004); “dis + dup” at the Gow Langsford Gallery, Auckland, New Zealand (2004), "disLOCATION" at the 2nd PingYao International Photo Festival, Shanxi, China (2002); and "China Avant-garde" at LEE, Ka-sing Gallery, Toronto, Canada (2002).

The idea of this work was forged when I was traveling around Europe by train in 2003. After being in so many cities in the world, I realized that globalization has made urban landscapes everywhere similar and blurred the boundaries between them. So often, "here" can be anywhere.

The architectural structures I photographed are all maquettes made to promote real-estate developments being planned in China today. Some of the buildings already exist, others will soon be constructed. When you face these models, showing such a variety of different spaces and think about the lifestyles associated with them, you start to wonder: Is this the picture of life today? Do we really live in this kind of space and environment?

Globalization is reshaping our urban environment and our vision of life, as the “new” constantly replaces the “old.” Private living spaces expand with the growth of income but the city becomes denser and fills up with modern buildings and high-rise towers. People live in cubes squeezed next to one another, separated only by thin walls. This physical proximity, instead of leading to greater closeness and intimacy between people, often create psychological distance and loneliness.

The sculptural form of these new residential buildings, the floor plan of the apartments, and the various interior designs, are all related to the inhabitants and their “individual” taste and needs. The models of these new living spaces are perfect, clean, and beautiful, but they are also so empty and detached from human drama. When you take these models and begin to add real life-even a single drop of it—so much changes.

This entire body of work is playful and fictitious, wandering between reality and fantasy. All the figures in this series are images of me, playing different characters. This creates another paradox: “I” am real but at the same time “I” am unreal. The figures act out totally imaginative roles as a part of different plots and in different spaces that I visualize when I look at these models. (Artist's Statement)

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