Portfolio: Alain Delorme
Shanghai's totems of consumerism
Sunday 03 April 2011
Ayoung man drags a ramshackle stack of furniture across a city on a makeshift cart; another pedals a colossal tower of cardboard boxes along the road, the load perched precariously above his tricycle. "The dizzying heights of these piles echo the incessant expansion of the buildings in the background," explains the French photographer Alain Delorme, who spent several weeks last year documenting the frenetic activity of China's most populous city, Shanghai.
These towering loads – or "totems", as Delorme calls them – are symbols of both a bustling boomtown and a reminder that the country's economic leaps forward have depended on the hard graft of an army of workers. At first glance, these workers are the Herculean heroes of this brave new world, able to balance and heave huge loads. But linger longer and Delorme's images take on a different dimension. "After a while I had the feeling that the objects they carried swallowed them," he reveals. These pictures aren't an ode to consumerism, then, but a reflection of our slavish clamouring for endless piles of goods.
Look closer still, and the loads seem to teeter at crazy angles, defying gravity. The piles have, in fact, been digitally exaggerated to question their role in the world's fastest-growing economy. "I wanted to show how small, traditional jobs in Shanghai life may soon disappear," explains Delorme – replaced, that is, by gleaming transport trucks bought by a city in hot pursuit of modernity.
GlastonburyWI to make debut appearance at Somerset festival
TV reviewIt has taken seven episodes for Game of Thrones season five to hit its stride
FilmPalme d'Or goes to radical and astonishing film that turns conventional thinking about immigrants on its head
Potter's attempt to create an Essex Taj Mahal was a lovely treattv
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Cyclist who knocked down three-year-old girl says his life has been 'destroyed'
- 2 A politically correct lefty goes to see Top Gear live – you'll probably believe what happened next
- 3 Isis burns woman alive for refusing to engage in 'extreme' sex act, UN says
- 4 Puerto Rico, island of lost dreams: People are leaving the debt-hit territory in droves as near neighbour Cuba's star rises
- 5 Snoop Dogg on why he doesn't regret displaying misogyny towards women
Art Garfunkel calls Paul Simon a 'monster' with a Napoleon complex
Eurovision 2015 winner: Sweden beats Russia and Italy to take the title from Conchita Wurst
Dheepan, film review: Palme d'Or prize goes to radical and astonishing film that turns conventional thinking about immigrants on its head
Game of Thrones, The Gift, Season 5, Episode 7: Why two of the show’s most iconic characters just met
Eurovision 2015: Estonia seemingly enters Louis Tomlinson from One Direction
As a white man, I'm surprised more women aren't tweeting the hashtag #KillAllWhiteMen
Scotland may have to leave the EU even if it votes to stay in, David Cameron confirms
The day that Britain resigned as a global power
Almost a third of school pupils believe 'Muslims are taking over our country', study claims
SNP fury as HS2 finds 'no business case' for taking fast train service to Scotland
Gay marriage 'Bert and Ernie' cake bakery found guilty of discrimination in Northern Ireland