As China relaxed its economic restrictions and reopened the doors to foreign investment in the 1980s, the whole nation was thrust into a craze of buying and selling almost anything that had a slight hint of profit. Property projects became the most sought–after investments. In order not to lose out, people hastened to pour their lifelong savings into real estate deals, sometimes without having even seen a brick. With corruption prevalent and an overheated economy, problems soon abounded.
The bubble finally burst and millions of square metres of land were left unfinished. In 1998, in Hainan alone, a combined floor space of 16,3 million square metres were aborted or left unfinished. This wave of abortive building construction spread across other Asian cities which were also experiencing meteoric economic growth. People in China termed these projects lan wei lou, "lan" meaning "decaying", or "rotting" while "wei" is "the tail", "the ending". Therefore, lan wei means more than just "unfinished".
For some reason or another, it wasn't possible to complete these "lou" ["buildings"]. There were simply no solutions or closure. In time, the concept of lan wei extended beyond building projects. It became synonymous with anything that is aborted while in progress, for reasons unknown. These photos by Hong Kong-based artistanothermountainman attempt to capture the relics of this mad "gold rush" and, at the same time, reflect on how, throughout the years, lan wei has manifested itself not only in building projects but also in all aspects of life.
Lanwei has taken anothermountainman six years to shoot. During this time he visited many cities around China and Asia, gathering image after image of unfinished buildings. The artist's work often reflects his viewpoint and concern over society, culture and identity. He often says "If a situation involves more than one person, the possibility of lan wei — rotten end — will arise." Lanwei is not merely about abandoned construction projects but the artist's interest in the stories and people behind them.
Photography is the key medium of anothermountainman's work. During the making of Lanwei he incorporated both documentary photography and staged photography to represent these buildings. The former captures lan wei buildings' physical manifestations — they are perplexing, abandoned, and often out of synch with the surrounding environment. The artist also attempts to reveal the internal layer of the structure: the investor's dream of the past now left broken, leaving only traces of decay; or the people moving inside the spaces, giving it a brand new lease of life. On the other hand, in staged scenes, the artist creates his own imagined stories around the lan wei site using locals, actors and dancers.
Anothermountainman recently finished shooting in Beijing, with a large abandoned and unfinished theme park as the backdrop. He combines factual historical figures with fictional characters, taking the Lanweiseries into surreal territory. The visuals seem arbitrary, absurd, even a little deranged, and such gestures seem to erase the past coldness and sadness of Lanwei. The figures have been promoted from minor characters to leading players, dominating the scene reflecting today's China. History and traditional values are newly interpreted, normality is re–defined. These works represent the artist's current perception towards the society — in today's China "anything is possible".
"Buildings can be aborted, so can projects. Plans may be aborted, so may hopes," states the artist. "Ties between people could be aborted, so could relationships. Life, I guess, should not be aborted. I have been harbouring the concept of shooting abortive building projects in my mind for 5 years. Fortunately, on the eve of government actions to clean up the mess, this concept finally became a reality, sparing it from being yet another abortive attempt."
The Lanwei project was exhibited in Hong Kong's Blindspot Gallery and the Blindspot Annex, showing over 40 selected works to conclude anothermountainman's six–year–long journey through Asia before continuing to The West, where the global financial crisis has spawned a new generation of lan wei... Mimi Gradel, Blindspot Gallery Director
用途： 住宅 , 工程
用途： 住宅 , 办公 , 学校 , 商业
用途： 住宅 , 工程
用途： 办公 , 其他
用途： 住宅 , 其他 , 旅游 , 办公
用途： 办公 , 学校 , 营地 , 其他
用途： 住宅 , 办公 , 学校 , 其他