Natural utopias surrounded by urban sprawl

Tan Weiyun
Contrasting with rocket-speed development in China's major cities, urban parks have a slower, more peaceful appeal, like natural utopias far removed from their surroundings.
Tan Weiyun

Contrasting with rocket-speed development in China’s major cities, urban parks have a slower, more peaceful appeal, like natural utopias far removed from their surroundings.

The photography exhibition “Public•Park,” in full swing at the Shanghai Duolun Museum of Modern Art, explores the relationship between urban green spaces and city life.

Fifteen photographers and visual-art groups display their work, all taken in Shanghai parks.

For people living in cities, urban parks often hold special memories and experiences. They also provide a unique angle for artists to observe society.

In the photo “At Luxun Park on Saturday Morning,” the visual art group Fo Da Jie captures large crowds of elderly people. What the crowds are actually doing is left ambiguous and open to interpretation.

Natural utopias surrounded by urban sprawl
Courtesy of Fo Da Jie

"At Luxun Park on Saturday Morning"

In Yan Yibo’s photo “2020 Series,” a couple in their 50s are lying in the sun on green grass, using facial masks to shield their eyes from the sun — a nod to the ubiquitous nature of masks in the wake of COVID-19.

Photographer Xu Haifeng’s picture taken in Lingshi Park shows a woman lying on her side with her head on a backpack. Not far away, children are playing by a lake. With her back to the camera, you don’t see the woman’s face, but a sense of fatigue and stress is palpable.

“A park is a place where people take a lot of photos,” said curator Shi Hantao.

“It serves as a children’s paradise, a place to take a date and an open-air gym. Parks are also a window that reflect Chinese urbanites’ social and spiritual lives.”

Natural utopias surrounded by urban sprawl
Courtesy of Xu Haifeng

"In the Park"

Exhibition info

Dates: Through December 13 (closed on Mondays), 10am-4pm
Venue: Shanghai Duolun Museum of Modern Art
Address: 27 Duolun Rd


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