Until the Last

( long-term, ongoing project )

Until the Last is a long-term photo project which documents the rapid change in the domestic Chinese culture in Beijing.

China has a long-time genius for domestic architecture, daily life and the powerful sense of community is one of the important elements that characterize this type of dwelling. After years of destruction and rapid growth in cities like Beijing, Shanghai, or Nanning, the cultural important neighborhoods are on the verge of disappearing. I started my documentation in 2014, with a focus on urban communities and the complexity of housing, as well as the destruction and alteration of individual roads and sections. This is an urgent regional inventory before these neighborhoods are erased completely. I helplessly watch as the precious Chinese heritage disappears.

Photographs 2014 - 2018

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Book Dummy - Until the Last

My finished project is presented in book form, using a traditional Chinese bookbinding art call Dragon Scale bookbinding. This is a lost Chinese art, which can be traced back over 1,000 years to the Tang dynasty when Dragon Scale was once reserved for the very wealthy and privileged class of Chinese people. Using a folding technique as a stylistic device, each side bears a picture at the end of each page so that all pages together unfold one large picture. All pages are printed on a thin rice paper in one piece and then folded into one another; a chapter can be over 20 meters long! Each chapter is dedicated to a city. The end result is a foldable book handmade by a precise procedure. 

Exhibition - Until the Last

The project is a complex installation of flexible frames which are movable and can be viewed from both sides. One such frame shows the history and change of the Hutong life in Beijing documented in the time period of 2014-2018. Past and present of Beijing's Hutongs, an aftermath overview caused by the demolition and deconstruction of Chinese authorities. Each frame has on its outside edge a slice of a picture, by moving them together, all frames built one image, which can be seen from distance. This technique repeats the same approach as in the Chinese dragon scale book art made by the artist.

The installation shows two chapters on the wall, following the same concept as in the book, separated from one large framed photograph in the middle, accompanied by a reproduction of an architectural scale model, to visualize the Hutong structure in Beijing.