Chai-Na : Destruction is there (Chai=Destruction, Na=there)

The district of Caochangdi, located outside the fifth ring road in eastern Beijing, on the way to the airport, became within a few years an influential artistic zone in the Chinese capital. Studios, galleries and artists villages developed following the rise of the art market between 2005 and 2009.

Despite its international visibility thanks to the presence of recognized Chinese artists, today Caochangdi is facing a dubious future. Several months ago, rumors about a demolition project started to circulate among the artists of Caochangdi and the villagers in the neighborhoods, then this rumors quickly confirmed at the end of last year with the first demolitions. Some residents received an eviction order within five days, others had the heating and water cut in mid-winter with -10 degrees outside to accelerate their forced removal. In spite of contracts correctly signed over several years, “ping fang” (traditional one-storey houses) ruins are increasingly conspicuous.

On top of artists villages in the process of demolition, it’s actually a whole district which is dedicated to disappear and barely compensated residents obliged to move out immediately.

I am following the demolition process, in meantime focus on the district’s threatened daily life and collect the portrait of artists in their Atelier at the last moment. This documentary work aims at leaving a trace of an example among others of massive urban transformation.

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