Curriculum Vitae

WANG Fang, born in 1963, was brought up in Beijing in a family of three-generations of engineers. Her school education in the 1970s and 80s was very much influenced by the repercussions of the Cultural Revolution. After her undergraduate studies she worked in central government in China. However, after 8-years of being in the public sector she decided to widen up her horizon. She went to study in Germany and England. Since then she has been wandering frequently between Europe and China.

Whenever she returns to Beijing and experiences the gradual change of life spaces in her home city Beijing, she is simultaneously excited and shocked, amazed and confused, sometimes she even feels lost in the city, which for her is gradually loosing spirit and soul. First, she started to document these changes. Subsequently, she became more and more interested in photography as an art.

Her photographic artwork centres on the transformation of life spaces in Beijing. When exploring the transition in Beijing, she finds familiar buildings and streets disappearing, sacrificed to progress, modernisation and consumption. And she feels that people seem to be alien in their own quarter. Often, her eyes are focusing on small details, such as a demolition hammer or telephone stickers on a public staircase. For the informed Beijing observer such details tell much about the changing nature of life in the metropolis.

When exploring Asian cities in Europe, it is the gradual amalgamation of European and Asian signs and the influence of excessive material consumption and commercial marketing on day-to-day urban environments, which she monitors. Here her socially minded artistic interest is the gradual evolution of Chinese life spaces in European cities, reflected by the penetration of Chinese symbols into local neighbourhoods, and by the steady adaptation of European architecture to Chinese pragmatic use.

The Olympic Games in 2008 were a particular occasion to document the trans-formation of the city. When visiting the spectacular Olympic sites before and after the Olympics, her eyes were caught by casual workers from rural China, and by local tourists, for whom the splendid architecture seems just to be the backstage decoration of public spaces. A particular scar for her is the demolition of the traditional shopping and restaurant district Qianmen Street in the city, which is now converted into an American main street á la Disney to attract foreign and local tourists.

Mirror Beijing, the title of the exhibition in the DEPOT in Dortmund, points to her ambition to reflect the continuous changes. The photographic accounts, taken before and after the Olympic games are tracing fragments of social, economic and physical change in the city. They mirror the new reality of modernity in the capital of China.

WANG Fang is living in Potsdam and Beijing.

(fkwang@t-online.de)