June 03, 2007

Construction Time Again

As I mentioned in my first post on Toronto's Contact Photography Festival, some of the art here is exhibited in public spaces like subway stations, bus stops and billboards. Fashion photographer Jonathan de Villiers' "ShangHigh" series is being shown on the courtyard patio of a restaurant downtown. de Villers is a fashion photographer from London, now living in Paris. ShangHigh is a fashion spread that he shot for French Vogues Hommes and it is being shown here as part of Contact.

I attended a talk by a group of photographers where de Villiers was present. He talked about the concept for this photo shoot where he dressed Chinese laborers in designer suits and shot them on construction sites across Shanghai.

As Shanghai is going through a construction boom, workers from the countryside are moving into the city to work in low-paying construction projects. They sleep and eat on-site and spend as little as possible to be able to save and support their families back home. They all dream of one day owning apartments in the city, driving expensive cars and wearing designer clothes.

deVilliers' work documents Shanghai's impressive expansion in the background while commenting on the contrast between China's current economic reality and its future aspirations.

Inclusion of fashion photography in the festival is evidence of the increasing influence of fashion, art and design on each other.

This post concludes my
coverage of the Contact Photography Festival in Toronto. Next stop: New York, and the new spring exhibits in Chelsea.

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