Friday, August 31, 2012

Paint by numbers

Lineman
Shanghai, China
May 2012
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I don't know what possessed me to keep taking pictures of the unheard workers of this giant city, the ones who swept, cleaned or, in this case, painted their way through the day, never once raising their heads in the process. I don't know what the story is here, but I do know I felt moved to record their existence because part of me felt no one else would.

I was a bit early getting down to the lobby of our very comfortable hotel, so I had some time to sit down and look around. Between its marble-clad hallways, artwork on every wall and spectacular fountains, they clearly didn't spare much expense when they built this place. As I sat waiting for my colleagues, I couldn't help but notice the dichotomy between the opulent interior and the poignantly quiet scene unfolding just outside the window, the single man painstakingly painting a curb with a degree of perfection that seemed to defy the on-the-surface menial nature of the task at hand.

I wondered who he was, where he lived, and if he ever wondered what it would take to live at a level that he could be a guest here. Are the differences between haves and have-nots this pronounced? I'm guessing the are, and I'm not so naive as to believe they're any different in China than they are back home. But somehow they seem to be a little more starkly obvious here, as if this emerging society hasn't yet quite figured out how to make the invisibles truly invisible.

Maybe we're all more alike than we let on.

Your turn: Are we alike or are we not?

2 comments:

Kalei's Best Friend said...

The more different we may appear, the more alike we really are... Different package, same insides.

Alexia said...

Nice shot, Carmi.
My husband has just got back from Shanghai, which he first began visiting 12 years ago, going every year until 3 years ago. He couldn't believe how much the city has been "tidied up" - did you notice the smae thing? The old men spitting, the heaps of garbage, the revolting smells, smoking in restaurants, the thousands of bicycles - all gone.
It makes me a little sad, really...