I’ve been going through some old photographs I took in China a few years ago and thought I’d share the picture above. Not because it is a particularly great photograph, although it does remind me a little of the poster for Tarrantino’s Reservoir Dogs taken from the rear rather than the front, but more for how it perfectly illustrates to me China’s economic ambitions whilst still trying to maintain the social structure of the state. Three of the people in the picture are the Director and Deputy Director of the Guangdong Art Museum in Guangzhou and their architect. They are showing guests around a disused coal powered power station on the outskirts of Guangzhou that they are planning to turn into a modern art gallery along a similar vein to Tate Modern. So why is this picture of interest? well at the time of taking the picture we were informed that the bulldozers were to move in within 6 weeks. 6 weeks? look at the trees and the hedge, look at the roadway swept of leaves, just the general cleanliness. The hedges were cut to represent the dragon and there were a team of gardeners working all around in gardens that were to be flattened in 6 weeks. Madness? who knows, employment is maintained and workers appear to have pride in their work, but is it worth it?
As a postscript I never knew if the Gallery ever opened, at the time I thought it was an ambitious plan. The Guangzhou power station could have accommodated at least 2-3 Tate Moderns but they certainly had self belief and veryy ambitious plans.