Disappearing Act

Courtesy the Magenta Foundation / Monte Clark Gallery Vancouver / Toronto / Greg Girard

PAST, PRESENT, FUTURE: Shanghai's skyline rises from the ruins of its historic buildings

Several years ago I was strolling through an old neighborhood of Shanghai when I spied a scrum of men carrying something out of a darkened doorway. It was a rattan chair on which sat a very agitated granny. She was one of the last holdouts refusing to leave her house, which was scheduled to be torn down to make way for Xintiandi, Shanghai's sprawling outdoor shopping-and-restaurant development. As she was borne out, like some parody of an imperial courtesan in a eunuch-shouldered sedan chair, the Mao-suited woman kept screaming a phrase in Shanghainese. I asked a friend what it meant. "Remember...

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