PDN Photo of the Day

The Present Life of Future Cities

Noah Addis and Kai Caemmerer present two opposing but related views of urban life in “Future Cities,” a show on view until March 28 at Pictura Gallery in Bloomington, Indiana. Caemmerer’s images show recent housing developments in China that are not yet inhabited. On blank walls and in deserted alleys, there is no trace of the people who will eventually live there. Instead, the images are filled with massive dark forms, empty streets, unfinished landscaping and minimalist expanses of cement and stone.

In contrast, Noah Addis’s images, made in Dhaka, Cairo, Mumbai and the suburbs of Mexico City, show the aftermath of the human crush that Caemmerer’s images seem to brace for. Every surface is crowded with evidence of human life—laundry hangs from balconies, vegetable vendors crowd between railroad tracks and everything is covered in a layer of trash. While some images show the wear of pollution and time on large buildings like those in Caemmerer’s pictures, others depict communities that seem to have had no single creator, designed instead by the collective force of individuals working with shared constraints. The language of construction is different in these—where Caemmerer shows poured cement and soaring metal, Addis’s buildings speak in corrugated tin and brick, or even more humble materials—several structures are made from tarps and sticks. The walls of one enclosure are made from rusty mattress springs.

These two strains of urbanism “express two distinct channels of anxiety,” writes the gallery in a curatorial statement. “Will humans live in an isolated void, in a world governed by technology? Or, as populations grow, will we live in increasingly crowded and seemingly chaotic spaces?”

Related Stories:

The West Reflecting on the East

Hai Zhang: Lost in China

Picture Story: Personalizing China’s Urbanization (For PDN subscribers; Log in required)

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