Ekaterina Busygina. The many faces of Shanghai.
The project by this Russian photographer looks a bit like a kaleidoscope of urban faces. The unmistakeable skyline on the Huangpu river, the lobby of the Jin Mao Tower and the moulded interiors of the Himalayas Center by Isozaki all express modernity and technology, in addition to cutting-edge architecture in terms of both technique and aesthetic language. The photographer contrasts this with photos of traditional buildings, whose fascinating structures are brought out in the night-time shots. It's no coincidence that these shots are the ones that portray the crowd going about their daily business, their everyday lives since this is where you breathe in the roots of the old Shanghai.
This artist's approach to photography is based on an intense process of observation of the many components that make up a place. Indeed, Ekaterina Busygina showcases the architecture in the way it first grabbed her attention. In other words, the factor that in the second place allows you to familiarise yourself with the local culture. This way, it's easier for her to approach significant places in a city, breaking down the cultural barriers and feeling like she was one of the city's inhabitants.
Because for Ekaterina Busygina, it is fundamental to get really close and cosy with the place she is photographing, so when she visits a city, she doesn't just look at it, she actually personally experiences what the urban environment has to offer. As she herself states in her reportages, each photo is the result of this familiarity, and it is this that makes them all equally special.
This sensorial - and more importantly cultural - interaction with the city makes the photographer's work look like a composition of places, all equally expressing the essence of Shanghai, even though they come from different roots and situations. This is because, in the words of the photographer, architecture "is a reflection of the character and aspirations of people" and when you understand that, the doors perforce open to the different levels that make up every part of the big city.
So when you look at the many faces of this multiform city, you must go beyond appearances and reach down into the many layers of history that live there, into the variety of architectural languages, and more specifically into all the cultures that live here side by side. Ekaterina Busygina did just that, and managed to perceive each of these elements - so different and discordant - to reconstruct the fascinating complexity of Shanghai in every photo of "Many faces of Shanghai".