This post is also available in: French

”Go on world tour, what a wonderful idea! But for many reasons, few people can afford it, and for many, this journey remains an unfulfilled dream. Times are changing! Welcome to Beijing World Park! Here you can go around the world in one day only, now, dreams come true!”

This promising text opens the catalog of Beijing World Park inaugurated with great pomp by Chinese Prime Minister Li Peng on November 25, 1993. Constructed within 18 months by the Institute of Civil Engineering and Architecture of the city of Beijing for a public investment of 15 million euros, the World Park attests a craze for abroad at the time when China was opening up to globalization. With a hundred miniature reproductions of great monuments, this theme park offers a unique experience of tourism to its visitors: a fictional journey where the pyramids of Giza and Notre-Dame cathedral of Paris meet in the reassuring bosom of a place at home. In six months, over three million Chinese people visited the park, often with their new film camera. This incredible photographic playground generated millions of pictures of an elsewhere where the global symbols of architecture are reduced to ridiculous levels. A few years later, with the rise of Chinese tourism abroad, this playground expanded worldwide and exceeded the limits of the theme park.

In this new series from his Beijing Silvermine archive, Thomas Sauvin offers us, in his turn, a voyage where exploring Beijing World Park through photography joins the one of the entire planet, a visual universe where reality and fiction cross each other.

Beijing Silvermine is a photographic archive of more than half a million negatives found in a recycling area on the outskirts of Beijing over the last ten years. Since 2009, Thomas Sauvin has bought these negatives per kilo saving them from the acid tank where they are usually dissolved to extract the precious silver nitrate they consist of. With Beijing Silvermine, he backs up, edits and revives the memory of a China deploying in film.

From the first films appeared in the mid-1980’s to the rise of digital photography in the 2000’s, these images create an authentic portrait of China since the country has opened up to the world.

photographs by Thomas SAUVIN

to 15/12/2019
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