Jens Harder actually wanted to research the rapid changes in Beijing that have transformed China's capital from a seemingly endless two-story village into a mega-metropolis dotted with skyscrapers in just a few years. But on location, the state's compulsion to control and the draftsman's sense of freedom clashed mightily.
Beijing is growing rapidly. The city is transforming at a breathtaking speed. This also affects the electrification rate among transportation vehicles. Thanks to massive subsidies, it has now exceeded 90 percent in the Chinese capital. As a result, even the rustiest junk car rolls toward the visitor in an environmentally friendly manner and with ghostly silence.
They take naps at the furniture store, have no problems with surveillance apps, and eat stuff... well. Chinese are often a mystery to tourists. But not all clichés about the 1.4 billion people apply. Dogs and cats are not eaten everywhere. And there are also tall people in the north. But they really can't pronounce the "R". Not in any of the 56 ethnic groups.
Strict look, imposing appearance: At the entrance to every sanctuary, palace, restaurant or other rooms worthy of protection, the obligatory pair of stone lions stands guard. The male figure is always on the right. Under his paw he has a ball symbolizing the unity of the empire. To the left is a lioness holding her cub under her paw, indicating growth and well-being.
If you want to experience the original Beijing, you can't avoid this highlight: a tour through the fascinating Hutongs. The narrow alleys run through the old city and extend around the Forbidden City. But the idyll is under threat: Hutongs are being demolished block by block for new construction projects. At the same time, some neighbourhoods are under strict protection and are being lovingly renovated.
Trips to the Great Wall quickly turn into a declaration of love - not to the wall, but to the photo. Cameras, smartphones and selfie sticks are in constant use here. In combination with narrowness and steep steps, one can easily get dizzy. Runners take the ups and downs sportily: on the Great Wall Marathon, they conquer the wall over a distance of 42,195 km and climb 5,164 steps.
The royal boathouses on Kunming Lake make a pretty photo motif, especially in the sun. The lake covers about three quarters of the summer palace in Beijing's north. With its lakes, temples, pavilions and magnificent nature, the 290-hectare park is one of the largest and best-preserved imperial gardens in the world and thus undoubtedly one of the city's main attractions.
For the 2008 Olympic Games, Beijing's city government built a gigantic park with stadiums, training facilities, a press center and its own small town that accommodated many thousands of people. The center and main attractions of the complex: the national stadium, called the "Bird's Nest" because of its shape and structure, and the Olympic Tower.
Jens Wiesner on "Cités - Beijing"
Harder got into the habit of drawing in his hotel room in the evening from photographs and sketches he’d made on site... This procedure also explains the noticeable change in style within the series. The more sketch-like drawings are the ones that Harder drew in China."