April 4, 2012
9,600,000 square feet. 2,350 retails spaces. Spraying fountains, amusement park rides, video game arcades, replicas of international monuments, including the Arc de Triomph, the bell tower of St. Mark’s in Venice, and a 1.3-mile canal with gondolas. This is the New South China Mall in Dongguan, China, a sprawling, colorful complex that has been poised as the one-stop consumption center of the future since its opening in 2005. But in the words and images of photographer Matthew Niederhauser, the mall is an “unabatedly empty temple to consumerism.” Of its 2,350 retail spaces, only 47 are occupied, and the top floors remain unfinished, sitting in settled dust, inhabited almost exclusively by an eerie coterie of dismembered mannequins. Read on.