Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Alain Delorme: Super Totems In Shanghai


With her booming economy and authoritative political system, China often finds herself in the spotlight of Western scruntiny and controversy. Recently Morrissey commented that the way Chinese treat animals must make them a "subspecies". Does that make the Germans a subspecies too? Surely they killed more Jews than cats and dogs, and not for food either? Enough said.

Not only do the Chinese make their cultural heritage subject of art works, (Ai Weiwei has certainly paved the way for Western recognition of Chinese contemporary art), many Western artists also find China at the centre of their inspiration, notably British photographer Jasper James, and lately, French photographer Alain Delorme.

During the 2010 World Expo in Shanghai, Delorme wondered around the city away from the modern skyscrapers and the clean streets and deep into the suburbs surrounding the developed central, capturing the daily movements of the "floating population" - the Chinese migrant workers, as they shift cargoes of goods, recycling materials, chairs and bottles in and out of the city to make a living. At first glance these images are half real half surreal, with carefully compositioned and horizontal layers. Delrome cuts out the city in the manner of an archaeologist. Various subjects spread out in a regular way between the ever-changing urban temporalities: the daily newspaper, the ceaseless movement of the passers by, the building sites and the new buildings, which all falls under a slow rhythm. Behind the balance of these compositions, Delorme breaks the rules of the documentary kind, playing with the assembly and the color to present a kind of “hyper reality” which highlights the paradoxes of the most dynamic city of China. 

In these photographs Delorme also captures the individuality of the workers, whereas the common depiction of the Chinese work force has largely been a faceless mass.The author urges us to see the workers as they contribute to the growing consumerism in which they do not benefit from themselves. Alain Delorme reactualizes the documentary proposal here which is based on the contrast between the form and of the representation, with the bright advertising colours, and the subjects of his depiction to underline this variation. These men become the superheroes of the new world whose force seems multiplied by ten. They are believed capable of all the prowesses, maintaining balance of their random and strange burdens with dexterity. Layers upon layers, thousand-year-old China côtoie contemporary industrial power is matched by the ordinary worker's totems. The race is not only among the men in the city, but also that of the city towards its future.

AlainDelorme Totem 2 600x409 Totems by Alain Delorme

Delrome's latest exhibition's in Paris featuring the series of Totems at the Magda Gallery until the 25th of September.
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