Filipe Casaca sent me a copy of his latest book,Blue Mud Swamp, a move on in book terms from his previous relationship study, the rather lovely my home is where you are.
Blue Mud Swamp is a colour coded look at the frayed edges of urban China. It's tattered and torn, worn-out with a chemical taint. It's a short term project but it says more to me than the smog-laden cityscapes that have dominated Western landscapes of China over the last 10 years. This is what Casaca told me about his work.
This series developed in Dalian, China. Recently, this city was classified as "one of the best cities to live in China" and an example of the modern patterns of China’s development.
In Dalian, I was attracted to the strong presence of the sea and coastal area – which has some of the few useable beaches in China - where I could find a prominence of youngsters/couples and a variety of leisure infrastructures.Due to its importance and main influence on the city’s characteristics, I decided that the sea would be a guideline in this work.
I observed that existed an excess of entertainment facilities – some in use, while other completely neglected with clear signs of degradation. Abundance, in a broad sense, is one of the visible faces of Dalian.
The city is filled with multiple stimuli and a big magnet for young couples looking for fun. Nevertheless, their way of being led me to feel that they were “dominated” by a certain absence.
In some leisure facilities such as theme parks, zoo and gardens, I found a recurring presence of animals that have an important symbolism in Chinese culture: the Tiger, symbol progress and protection; Horse, representing movement and power, and Turtle that not only symbolizes wisdom and longevity as the Universe itself in the Far East.
It was difficult for me to recognize "the best city to live in China”, the much-publicized “perfect universe” built by man. Instead, I found worlds artificially created and I came across fantastic scenarios created to sublimate Man, which paradoxically led me to a sensation of emptiness.