A series of astonishing photographs by the Italian architect and designer, discovering China at the end of the Cultural Revolution, between millenary traditions, openness to the world and forced modernization.
In the autumn of 1974, Gae Aulenti took part in a trip to China, visiting Hong Kong (still a colony at the time), Beijing, Shanghai, Nanjing and a few smaller locations. After the years of the Cultural Revolution, China was reopening to the world, and a curious and tireless traveller like her was struck by the highly disciplined collective life, order and cleanliness, but also by the great transformations of the territory and the new infrastructures such as universities and hospitals. It is a world suspended between millenary traditions and the drive towards modernisation that Mao Zedong's ideology had imposed upon the country. Yet it is still the China of bicycles, of a thousand shops and the Great Wall visited without the presence of tourists. A place in some ways distant and exotic, yet Aulenti is careful to capture the beginning of the China to come. An astonishing reportage that shifts between great panoramas with the telling details picked out by a sharp-eyed observer.
Gae Aulenti (1927-2012) was one of the leading representatives of Italian design between the 1960s and the turn of the century, and is considered to be among the finest architects of her generation. In addition to a number of design objects, her architectural and display projects (Palazzo Grassi in Venice, Gare d'Orsay in Paris) and set designs for major theatre productions are well known.