the overlooked ubiquity of bicycles in shenzhen

Celebrating 10 years of noting changes in the urban landscape. These pictures suggest how Shenzhen looked and moved at the cusp of its transition from concrete low rises to glass and steel skyscrapers. There’s even a picture from when Huanggang Road was a major shipping artery.

Shenzhen Noted

I have been collecting discarded objects and then photographing them in different sections of Shenzhen, the oldest and largest of China’s special economic zones. This process has (as yet) denied me photo-ops with a Guanyin statue, but helped me see things so common that they hadn’t previously registered as “Shenzhenese”. This bike tire examplifies how what gets overlooked is often the all-too-common (even by folks who define themselves through acts of documentation).

In the early eighties, just after the PRC had opened to the capitalist West, bicycles symbolized the differences between urban China and urban “us”. I remember magazine articles on Beijing and Shanghai that featured images of hundreds of Chinese citizens biking to (or from) work, school, the market. At the time, Shenzhen had just been established and rarely featured in these articles, except as an example of the extent to which China was changing. From its establishment, however…

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