May 22, 2013
In his beguiling photo series “Sitting on the Wall: Haikou V,” Chinese artist Weng Fen captures young women and new cities on the precipice of change. In the images, faceless adolescent girls sit on cement partitions in cities like Hai-kou, Shanghai, and Shenzhen, gazing out toward sleek hi-rises in developing commercial districts. Their backs face us, giving no hint of a personal identity, save for their slightly varied school uniforms. Meanwhile, the booming new buildings dominate the background, their postmodern façades signifying an increase of investment and oncoming changes throughout the city.
This intriguing scene, which is replicated in each of Weng’s pictures, highlights the growing divide between disenfranchised urban populations and residents in more central areas, as cities increasingly look toward development to attract capital and the upper classes. The anonymity of these girls feels unnerving; like the city, they are at transitional stages of growth in their lives. An anxiety arises in the possibility of the girls being cast in the shadow of the burgeoning development that captures their attention. The vibrant hues of the new cityscape captivate the viewer and the subject, who at the moment remains static on a steep precipice. See all the gorgeous photos below.