Liangzhu project : a sort of homecoming ( 2015)

This work was performed at Liangzhu (China) in the "cultural village" call Liangzhu New Town, recently built on the model of American and Western gated communities. This new city takes place on the original village of Liangzhu, now largely destroyed.
The inhabitants were displaced during the construction work, and relocated at the outskirts of the new village. These expropriations, often violent, change fundamentally the demographic and social landscape of China.

Built for a new Chinese middle class, urban and mindful of ecology and material comfort, this village offers a life in itself, in a closed and guarded space, cut off from the Chinese public space, which could be, for members of this community a potential threat of disorder and insecurity.
A return to the origins, nature and tradition (their fantasies in truth) is also one of the "selling argument" of promoters . The village and all its standards, its activities, the all "way of life" is managed by the village promoter, Vanke group, the largest private construction company in China.

This reports of neighborhood are based on a document signed by all the inhabitants of the new village, a code of "good conduct": participation in village activities, say hello to his neighbours , avoid punishing his children in public, monitoring the neighboring houses by prolonged lack of a family and other injunctions. These standards, which are displayed on a metal plate at the entrance of the village, also apply to visitors.

These forms of gated communities growing in China, accompanying the rapid transition to liberalism , are real heterotopias in space and Chinese urbanism.
They are for me the mark of a globalization and standardization of architectural and societal models, now affiliated to the necessities of the capitalist world order. They are also a very concrete example of "bio-politique" in the sense that Giorgio Agamben defines it, after Michel Foucault.

The portraits, almost against the light, reveal gradually the isolation and loneliness of the inhabitants. The window in the background, marks the boundary with the outside never present which is experienced as a dangerous space .
The interior fragments that accompany the portraits are at the limit of abstraction.
These still lifes show a reconstructed scenes of private spaces, of privacy.

This project will be deployed in other places : Rawabi in the Palestinian Territories, different gated communties in Europe (France) and United States.
This work is a part of a larger project, Gated, started in 2009 with Vitae Nova serie, images of illegal migrants who came to the European territories.
Those new communities redefine our understanding of public and private space, our relationship to each other.
Generated by economic power, these forms also redefine territories and rise of new borders,even within states, creating new ghettos and making uncertain and suspicious the public space.

Eric Aupol