Gone but not forgotten: the unconventional “pot of memories.”

Jiang Xiaowei/Shine

One of the lanes in Laoximin has become a photographic gallery of the area’s past.

Penglai Road, a corridor in Huangpu District where residents were relocated for urban renewal, features a “natural art gallery” of images projected across the facades of old houses.

Some of the 129 images were created by seven local photographers in Shanghai. The rest came from participants in a photography competition organized by Laoximene sub-district.

“Photos are vessels of memories,” said Professor Gu Cheng, an academician at Fudan University who organized the exhibition. “These photographic works not only revive our memories, but also expand our perception of the city.”

Laoximen is often viewed as the cradle of downtown Shanghai. nickname com. laochengxiang, or literally “old downtown”, the area is very close to the City God Temple and Yuyuan Garden. It is home to Wenmiao, the oldest Confucian temple in Shanghai, and Shanghai Jingye High School, the oldest school in Shanghai, most likely dating back to 1748.

He is gone but not forgotten:

Imagine China

Laoximen before urban renewal began

In recent years, residents who lived in Laoximhen’s century-old lanes have been slowly relocated to make way for urban redevelopment. The Confucian Temple is closed for restoration in 2021, along with its popular weekend used book market.

“There is no citizen in Shanghai who does not know something about Laoximen,” said Zhang Lei, a visitor to the exhibition from a nearby neighborhood. “Wenmiao City and the surrounding area were the ‘holy ground’ of childhood for us who were born in the 1980s. I often bought CDs, stationery and anime posters from convenience stores, and there were plenty of snack shops to enjoy throughout afternoon “.

However, the photos in the exhibition reminded Zhang of her old friends more than anything else.

“I had many friends who lived in the area, but now they have either moved out or have been relocated,” she said. “The city is so big, and life is getting busier. It’s not easy to get together anymore.”

He is gone but not forgotten:

Jiang Xiaowei/Shine

Pictures are distributed along the corridors so that visitors have enough space to take pictures with them.

If an exhibition triggers memories of something or someone, it strikes the right chord.

Xu Haifeng is one of the exhibition’s photographers. His works mainly focus on old items that he collected from houses that were about to be demolished. They include an old Hitachi television, a pair of women’s sandals and an old video tape.

“The residents have left, but the breath of their life remains in the homes as if they had never left them,” he told Shanghai Daily. “I took the articles into my studio to photograph them, with a projector shining light on them. Lighting has two different meanings. One is that this is the afterglow of these articles because their usefulness has passed; the other is that perhaps they can glow with a whole new life.”

However, Shaw said he still felt like there was something missing in the images and wanted to bring some complexity to them.

“I was thinking: What is it about these articles that connects with people?” “And I realized this was the process of moving on.” “Some people embraced a whole new life and left all their old stuff behind, while others decided to take at least part of their life with them. “The move brought up all these emotions.”

Shaw added to his pictures some government slogans encouraging residents to move from their old homes. “Better city, better life; early expropriation, early improvement of life,” he added for a photo of an aluminum bowl. He added to a glass panel: “Harmonious expropriation benefits the nation and the people.”

He is gone but not forgotten:

Xu Haifeng

A photo of a discarded aluminum pot by photographer Xu Haifeng, collected from a house that was about to be demolished. He later added the slogan of confiscation to it.

He is gone but not forgotten:

Xu Haifeng

Shaw’s photo of a glass plate

Another photographer Zhou Kailon captures the liveliness of the city’s active life. In his photographs, there is always a sense of movement.

One of his photos in the exhibition shows a dining table next to two fish tanks. The light is dim, and there is no human in the picture, but there is still a sense of life as colorful goldfish swim around the plates, seemingly curious about what their owners are eating for dinner.

“All my photos were taken by chance, and this photo was no exception,” Zhou told Shanghai Daily. “It was before the relocation process began in Laoximin. One day, when I was wandering down the corridor, I saw a family who had just finished cooking a meal. The door of their house was open, and the dishes had been placed on the table next to two aquariums. I asked them if I could I took a picture and they agreed.”

He is gone but not forgotten:

Q Cailon

Photographer Zhou Kailon captured a dinner table next to two aquariums for a family who lived in Laoximen.

Zhu said he once lived in an old district in Shanghai for more than six decades and knows what it means to bid farewell to the old and embrace the new.

“It is already difficult to leave everything behind, but most residents were keen to live in better living conditions,” he said. “The old houses looked good from the outside, but inside many families still had to share kitchens and bathrooms. It was more difficult to live there in bad weather.”

He is gone but not forgotten:

Q Cailon

Another photo taken by Qu shows an old barber shop. The faces of the two people inside are hidden in shadow, making viewers wonder what their story is.

More than 8,000 families have been moved to Laoximen over the past two years, and many old compounds have been closed.

“The pictures are the size of a door or window,” said Wang Yimin, a district official. “It blends in well with the original buildings, giving visitors an immersive feeling.”

He is gone but not forgotten:

Jiang Xiaowei/Shine

Photos are distributed along the corridors so that visitors have enough space to take photos with them.

Wang said the sub-district will promote more events to showcase the area’s heritage, even after residents have been moved and many buildings demolished.

He cited as one example the Longmincun district, which dates back to 1935. The corridors resemble an architectural museum of residential buildings, including a Slovakian style rarely seen in Shanghai.

“One day Laoximen will return in a new form, but we will do our best to protect the treasures of the past,” Wang said.

He is gone but not forgotten:

Jiang Xiaowei/Shine

The exhibition displays photographs of Laoximian residents who were relocated.

Laoximin: City Walk Photo Gallery

Date: Until the end of October

Address: 388 Penglai Road and surrounding streets

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