Over the past fifty years China has seen a constant development of the city. In 1978, in fact, only 18% of the Chinese population lived in urban settings, while today this figure has reached 60%, with a consequent and progressive depopulation of the countryside, while infrastructure and new settlements have completely changed the landscape of entire territories, eroding rural spaces and small villages.
An important phenomenon that impacts over 16 million people per year - the largest mass migration the world has ever seen - and which appears to contradict the growing sensitivity of the Western world towards nature and life in the countryside. Not an exceptional case, but a global trend and a rather complex problem, which cannot be encapsulated within pre-established categories and models, but which has been the subject of a multi-year research curated by the Polytechnic University of Turin (by Michele Bonino and Francesca Governa, with the collaboration of Francesco Carota, Maria Paola Repellino and Angelo Sampieri) and by Prospekt Photographers (Samuele Pellecchia, Francesco Merlini) in collaboration with the Tsinghua University in Beijing. The long work carried out by the team is told through photos, videos, installations, models, maps and infographics as part of the “China Goes Urban. The City to Come” exhibition currently on at the Museum of Oriental Art (MAO) in Turin.
The exhibition starts by exploring four new towns: Tongzhou, Zhengdong, Zhaoqing and Lanzhou, allowing the viewer to learn about the new Chinese urbanisation in its positive and negative aspects and to use it as a means for questioning our global urban future. At the centre of the exhibition there are four main themes: urbanisation processes, urban fragments, infrastructures and the urban/rural relationship. The exhibition follows two intertwining logical narrative sequences. The first sequence reconstructs an exhibition hall, an iconic place where developers and public administrations promote the urban lifestyle and the successes achieved in relation to the goals set by the government. A depiction that on the surface attempts to convey to visitors the exoticism and the uniqueness of the Chinese case, but which falls apart as we continue along the path of knowledge of those metropolises. The second logical sequence, in fact, captures individuals as they carry out their everyday activities and portrays them in their new settlements. The result is a very familiar tale of everyday life, animated by practices, behaviours and desires, no different than those in which people all over the world are engaged.
The exhibition, which originally opened its doors on October 16, 2020 and then closed in compliance with the restrictions aimed at the containment of the Covid-19 pandemic, has recently been reopened to the public and will run until May 9, 2021. The staging project was designed to guarantee the public safe access to the exhibition during the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. The flow of visitors is defined and guided by special signs for moving, stopping or moving at different speeds in order to avoid gatherings, with special gates where visitors can discover and download information and visual content directly on their mobile devices.
Images courtesy of Samuele Pellecchia / Prospekt
Title: China Goes Urban. La nuova epoca della città / “China Goes Urban. The City to Come”
Location: MAO, museo d'arte orientale, Torino – Italia
Scientific curatorship: Michele Bonino, Francesca Governa in collaboration with Maria Paola Repellino and Angelo Sampieri
Artistic curatorship Samuele Pellecchia in collaboration with Francesco Merlini
Scientific coordination Francesco Carota
Co-Curatorship Liu Jian in collaboration with Zhang Li and Fan Lu
Coordination and management: Angela Benotto, Delia Malfitano
Photos and videos: Samuele Pellecchia
Music Federico Chiari
Graphic processing and representations: Giorgia Greco, Nikos Katsikis, Leonardo Ramondetti, Astrid Safina
Architectural models Stefano Orizio
Exhibition design BTTstudio, Giuseppe Mastrangelo, Giulia La Delfa, Niccolò Suraci, Cristiano Tosco in collaboration with Luca Barello
Graphics BTTstudio Quirino Spinelli in collaboration with Roberto Clemente
Web Design Francesco Merlini
Events coordination Delia Malfitano, Lidia Preti
Press Office Consultancy Cultivar
Translations Breda & Young Srl
Transport Fercam S.p.A.
Insurance AGE Srl
Exhibition Staging MODO Srl
Audiovisual equipment Timpani Srl