Thanks to the Ministry of Cultural Activities and IGAV Foundation Shanghai Prize 2012, Pozzoli has the opportunity to spend three months in the most important Chinese business city. Living there she explores the neighborhoods and makes a sound and photography project titled “On the Horizon” that recreates the essence of how she perceives this city concentrating on the tension existing between two different typologies of areas: on the one hand the “Old Shanghai”, characterized by shabby and poor architecture (one or two floors houses), where people live and work in the streets, cooking food, selling products, sharing the everyday life very close one another. On the other hand there is the “New Shanghai”, with an hyper-modern look, impressive density, highways on different levels and no places to meet in the street. The new typology, this vision of the ultra modern city is “winning” the other one.
Is the new typology better than the old? Does new architecture bring a better lifestyle? Without the illusion of knowing the answers, Pozzoli underlines those aspects combining medium format square photographs taken in the old areas, being very close to people, and medium format panoramic photographs of the new areas empty. As well-known, gentrification forces families to move away in the most brutal ways in China. The process is fast and planned by the government. Nothing remains when a neighborhood is dismantled: no landmarks, not even the street structure. The area dedicated to the Expo 2010 was once home to fifty thousand families. In 2012 is in between a no-men’s land and a park of amusements. Of course workers never stops: it is becoming something else... but this huge area of odd buildings fading, questiones the photographer’s attention as well as the highways crossing the city center with well-cleaned paths for people to walk on. In Pozzoli’s panoramic photographs, instead of being in the middle of a very dense crowd, which is the everyday experience in Shanghai, we are invited to see the city architecture standing, empty.
The sound work combined to the photographs, is recorded in the different neighborhoods portrayed. It evokes the crowd, the density and chaos. Somehow it seems that someone, “bigger than mankind” constructed this new buildings on the opposite to the architecture that was there. The human scale is not considered. Like in the well-known Antonio Sant'Elia’s futuristic drawings, it seems that the exhalation for the dimension and the power of modernity is winning on the idea of the human figure as a center. Though, we are in 2012 and not in 1914…
OVERVIEW, Susanna Pozzoli
For an European even if she/he has already seen other metropolis, moving to Shanghai remains a very surprising experience. The dimension, the mixture of different architectural styles without a sensible plan ahead, the pollution, the noise, the active working rhythm on which the entire city is based, the presence of status symbols of glamour and luxury everywhere within the poorest lifestyles of common residents, are just some of the aspects that one encounters there. The city seems somehow fake, even the historical parts have been rebuilt to a point we don’t even trust the few stones that indeed come from the colonial times or even before. It is huge, aggressive and the neighborhoods are hard to define. It looks like a gigantic puzzle in progress, always changing: destroying, rebuilding and destroying again without a general and harmonious plan. Green areas are a new concept: most of the neighborhood so far have been destroyed and reconstructed with the only goal of exploiting to a maximum level the soil. Shanghai is as far as possible from the concept of the town “on a human scale”, which is the basic rule on which Italian historical city were built: it has very few landmarks and public open spaces, it is extremely hard to find a place where we can enjoy staying still.