Disappearing Shanghai

By Sabine Chichioco (cityweekend.com)
Updated: 2008-03-04 14:21

Shanghai is a city that makes any camera-wielding person want to take as many photographs as possible. The pace of change and the city's transitory nature prod you to capture moments and keep them just to prove that such a reality did exist. Two Shanghai residents elevate the act of taking photos to a fine art in their concurrent solo exhibits. m97 gallery showcases veteran Robert van der Hilst's "Shanghai: 1990-1993" and famed photohournalist Howard French's "Disappearing Shanghai."

Like flashcards of Shanghai's "great leap forward," van der Hilst shows how the city moves toward the modern while French displays the faces of those who have remained in the longtangs (lanes), living day-to-day, unfazed by the changes around them. Taken from the perspective of an outsider looking in, one wonders if the exhibit is meant to pass judgment and stir great emotions, or is merely an attempt to capture a moment and allow the photos to speak for themselves.

This back-to-back exhibit showcases not only a stark contrast in colors, eras and approaches to photography杤an der Hilst's spontaneous snapshots of scenes versus French's more deliberate portraits朾ut also a striking similarity between two foreigners' impressions of Shanghai. You feel the curiosity, the genuine interest in the subjects and the general awe of Shanghai as a city.

Take a glimpse at the stills in this exhibit, if only to see different facets of this city. You may soon find that these are representations of the "real Shanghai" you have been looking for.

m97 Gallery
When: Through March 21
Add: 2/F, 97 Moganshan Lu
Tel: 6266-1597


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