Material Life Noisy – magazine text fragment

Paul van der Stap Elisa Veini documentary projects ChinaLocated on the Yangtze, with its 6,300 kilometres the longest river in Asia, Chongqing spans an area the size of a small country. Because the city and the province overlap, the number of inhabitants is a point of discussion. Thirty million? More? Less? The setup of the city is equally fuzzy. The slums are right next to luxurious shopping, while the next barrack lies just behind the corner. City planning does not seem to exist.

Only the river provides a view. A muddy view, that is. People, fishermen and day-trippers, walk in the mud. Above their heads hangs the first stretch of a bridge that never was finished, like an amputated arm. In a couple of years, someone will build a house on the bridge, or start a restaurant.

Such relicts keep the city recognizable for its inhabitants. In an old part of the city, an opera group performs every Saturday afternoon. The audience is the same every: older ladies and gentlemen. They all know each other, and they know the operas by heart. The pieces are heroic sagas, combined with short comedy acts. The characters and their destiny are already clear, but the audience eagerly participates when the hero is in distress. Every week they provide the same solutions. To everyone’s content.

This is one of the mini-essays from the Material Life Noisy magazine. Find out here how to order your copy of the magazine.