Laoximen Time Exhibition is a project by Francesca Valsecchi, Wesley Boers, Saverio Silli and Suci Li. It all started with a found photo album and a parcel of old film negatives, an unknown treasure trove filled with stories of the past. The photos have since been turned into an exhibition which will be held in Shanghai from September 18 until October 7. Head over to the opening talk of the Laoximen Time Machine exhibition at GoEast Mandarin on September 18.
“It started when I took a walk in Hongkou, Shanghai, next to a disappearing neighbourhood like Laoximen. The houses where all torn down and on top of the rubble I found this little black book. Maybe the demolition workers had already flicked through it but it was right plain in sight, ready to be tossed in the trash. I gave it a closer look and was truly amazed when I found it to be a true treasure. Since I did not want this to be lost in the garbage, I decided to take it with me.”
“Around the same time, I was walking through Laoximen on one of its last days. There were lots of people selling their leftover belongings. This is when I discovered a few packages of negatives that were going to be discarded. I couldn’t let that happen so I bought as many as I could find and started printing. I think I paid somewhere around RMB150 for the lot I found.”
“The photo album has many photos from in and around Shanghai and spans from the 30s to the 80s. I think these collections belonged to a few different families. It’s very interesting because you can see that some photos are of the same people and you can see their growth throughout the years. We love to fantasize about what their life was like, what they were thinking, and how they were feeling.”
“The parcel of negatives contained photos unrelated to the album but were similar in style. Each and every one is a work of art, capturing similar feelings and ideas. Not only through composition but also their subjects. The photos are just observations of Shanghai life in another time. I don’t think the photographers who took these pictures did so knowing that they would be an important part of history. But now, in our present and their future, we can see just how much value these pictures really have.”
“We have done our best to keep things as authentic as possible using traditional methods where we can when dealing with these negatives, rather than scanning and making prints from digital files. In the end, we hope we can inspire Shanghai’s citizens, locals and expats like us, to love this city even more. We had an exhibition earlier this year in Wujiaochang Creative Space. This time the photos will be at GoEast Mandarin, a language school in Shanghai.”
You can check out the exhibition from September 18 until October 7 at GoEast Mandarin (No. 194-196 Zhengmin Road Yangpu District, Shanghai). The grand opening will be held on Wednesday September 18 from 7-8pm.
[All images courtesy of GoEast Mandarin]