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Photo Essays

Melanie Dornier | Chinese Dream

Suzhou, City, Center, Nanxim Lu. Outside view of old mansion.
[C]hinese cities are exploding; everybody wants to enjoy new technologies and live on last development urban area. Old parts of cities don’t have anymore any value for Chinese development enthusiasms. Old traditional houses are sold and demolished, last remains are used to shelter people who don’t have so much luck in new economy game. Rent there is expensive for their wallet, it corresponds to about half of weekly income of migrant workers.

In the countryside businessmen offer jobs, wages look attractive comparing to average income in rural area. In people talk, successes of a friend of friend stories in city are numerous, rural people aspire to a better life so they decide to take opportunity to access it. Once arrived, reality is far from the dream they had. Cities are not anymore so welcoming.

Migrant workers’ subject tackles vast field of study and show one of current problems of Chinese society. In Chinese dream photo essay, angle chosen have been is to document life in one old mansion. Not aspects of work, migration, administrative registration, and social discrimination have been covered. Two aspects justify angle: life conditions and lost of heritage of country. House documented dated of Kuo Ming Tang time (1920) and been used during Japanese invasion to host high ranking officer. It solid construction in brick permit to resist time what is not often the case of house of this era. Humidity and fragility of structure of Jiangsu traditional architecture don’t allow house to last quite long. Current location is waiting to be demolished, as location would be part of a new development area; it is actually hosting her last dwellers. Pushing door of old mansion, best time to visit is evening time when almost everybody is back from work. Walking room to room, faces are tired; regards are not focusing after long working hours. Ceilings are high and some attributes of rich mansion have been left, quite a contradiction with the few personal items hold by tenants. Sanitary infrastructures are almost inexistent in the old mansion.

Mr. Chen, from south China, has been working for years in construction. His back is hurting but cost of life doesn’t allow him to stop. Eating a nice diner is his day reward. Next to his room, Family’s Kang three generations are living in the same room. Personal intimacy is almost non-existent. Homework time is taken seriously; it would be one opportunity to access to a better life. Upstairs Wang works as a cook, he is looking some advertisement on his mobile phone; things that one day he hopes to own. He has organized his own space to keep the warm of heater as much possible. His neighbor is off to work, his room looks better but had some bad water leak….
Chinese dream dresses a portrait of the forgotten of the growth on focusing on their living condition.This is just an example over million of cases all over the country.

Suzhou, City, Center, Nanxim Lu. Empty room on day time. Tenant at work left door open.
Suzhou, City, Center, Nanxim Lu. Tired worker after long day of work. He shares his room with other tenants.
Suzhou, City, Center, Nanxim Lu. Bathroom area.
Suzhou, City, Center, Nanxim Lu. Mr Chen came back from work.
Suzhou, City, Center, Nanxim Lu. Mr Chen’s diner time.
Suzhou, City, Center, Nanxim Lu. Family’s kang room.
Suzhou, City, Center, Nanxim Lu. The two children of Family Kang.
Suzhou, City, Center, Nanxim Lu. Home work time.
Suzhou, City, Center, Nanxim Lu. Tenant didn’t want to be taken on picture. I am allowed to show only his room with bad water leak.
Suzhou, City, Center, Nanxim Lu. Mr Wang looked at his mobile phone
Suzhou, City, Center, Nanxim Lu. Mr Wang’s bed.
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One Comment

  1. These photographs provide another vision of China, too much seen as an expansive country without knowledge of people conditions With this “Chines Dream” we understand better people who are participating to economical expansion Thanks Melanie for sharing

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