A Quick Peek At The 'Shenzhen & Hong Kong Bi-city Biennale of Urbanism\Architecture'

Yesterday I went to Shenzhen to pick up a few things that I had left there in December last year.

Whilst there, I thought I would pop into the 'Shenzhen & Hong Kong Bi-city Biennale of Urbanism\Architecture' to see what it was all about. What a mouthful, and yes - that is a backwards backslash. Maybe it was the winter weather, but the art installations in Shenzhen's Civic Square left me cold. TV sets incorporated into the installations were not switched on. A big white sky shone a cold grey light on everything. And everything was covered in a thin layer of the Pearl River Delta's finest factory grime. Sand and hay were sodden. And no one looked like they cared. What is it about state-sponsored outdoor art that it always has to look so forlorn? This one, called 'Triptyque', is a creation by architects Greg Bousquet, Carolina Bueno, Guillaume Sibaud and Olivier Raffaelli. Not sure why, but it somehow it reminded me of Rob Luxton's creations. In a good way of course, if you are reading this, Rob.

Some people rode on by, using the square as a shortcut from A to B, but a few bemused folk did stop and look at the art. This piece is entitled 'Urban Oasis' is by Studio Pei-Zhu in collaboration with design engineering firm ARUP. According to the plaque next to it, 'Urban Oasis' "...is inspired by traditional Chinese philosophical concepts of balance and harmony with nature, creating a space in which visitors gain energy and refinement from natural coexistence." It continues, "Studio Pei-Zhu, founded by Zhu Pei, is a platform for research into the relationship between Chinese philosophy and contemporary architecture, an experimental practice dealing with both tradition and the future". I just can't help my eyes from glazing over when I re-read those last two sentences.

On the way back to the Hong Kong border, my taxi stopped at a set of traffic lights. A familar Shenzhen scenario then unfolded, as a begging mother and child appearered at my window. I took their picture. Nice and candid.

Sometimes I give money to beggars, and sometimes I don't. But there's nothing wrong with a bit of give and take.

The mother seemed happy enough with the RMB10.00 (USD1.46) I gave her for being photographed.

Must have been all that energy and refinement that I gained from natural coexistence at 'Urban Oasis'...

ALEX HOFFORD : HONG KONG CHINA SHENZHEN PHOTOGRAPHER

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