The Spirit of the Cities

exhibition statement (cn/en)

(English below)


As modernization continues, the rhythm of city life is faster and more tense. Day to day life is filled with services that emphasize speed and efficiency. For example, fast food and words like “delivered within XX hours” are everywhere. The word “fast” has become synonymous with life. When we want everything to be fast, we often have a one track mind, with our sights set only on the goal. Yet, we often forget to enjoy the journey to our goal. There is a certain infatuation with speed. The pace of city life is based on this infatuation, which in turns lead to loud and busy behaviors and activities. When we want things to be “fast,” however, we lose more. Hence, the concept of “slow” was born. Only when the mind and heart slow down, can they see and feel its surrounding and the things in it, similar to how we are able to pick up more details when watching a slow-motion film. “Fast” and “slow’ seem to be polar opposites, but they are still co-dependent. That is to say, the quality and state of a city cannot be described or defined with one single aspect. It is comprised of two opposing ideas. For example, loudness cannot drown out the tranquility of music. And bustle and loneliness are often two sides of one coin.

“Spirit of Cities” has invited five artists to showcase their photography of cityscapes. We hope to look at the cities we’ve lived in or with which we are quite familiar, with fresh eyes, through the different perspective of these artists. When face-to-face with a cityscape that can’t be more familiar or more ordinary, artists are often able to use their cameras to bring out a never before seen side of the city. This has nothing to do with the skill of the artist, but rather, how their thoughts affect the way they see the world. In other words, if we spent more time and attention on our thoughts and views, we would able to see external scenes and things in a different light. Similar to when we want to view something on a projector, we should input the right settings in order to see the image properly, instead of changing the image itself. Cityscapes have to be diverse and multi-faceted for the city to show its personality and many faces. It is not the number of buildings that were torn down or erected; it is how its people see the relationship between the internal and the external, and how they imagine the city they live in. (Text written by Tsai Jia-Zhen)