Sunday, September 16, 2012

Cities Past and Present: The Photography of Jiang Pengyi

"Unregistered City No. 1," a photograph by Jiang Pengyi.

I thought these photographs captured the abstract nature of Flint that exists in the minds of many expatriates, especially those who left when the city was thriving and haven't returned. There's the Flint you remember living in — a happy place burnished by nostalgia — and then there's the Flint of today formed only by news reports, dire statistics, and your imagination. This abstract Flint isn't a real city, it's like a decaying architectural model locked away in a warehouse. But the shiny, prosperous Flint you remember probably isn't real either.

The photographer, Jiang Pengyi, is interpreting the intersection of the past and the present in a very different place: "My photographs of city, still objects and massive skyscrapers reduced to miniature sizes communicate my recurrent themes of excessive urbanization, redevelopment and demolition in the Beijing city."

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Thanks for commenting. I moderate comments, so it may take a while for your comment to appear. You might enjoy my book about Flint called "Teardown: Memoir of a Vanishing City," a Michigan Notable Book for 2014 and a finalist for the 33rd Annual Northern California Book Award for Creative NonFiction. Filmmaker Michael Moore described Teardown as "a brilliant chronicle of the Mad Maxization of a once-great American city." More information about Teardown is available at