Artist and co-founder of the Idlebeats screen print studio unveils her latest solo show at the Identity Art Gallery
February 7, 2012
The British photographer who settled in Shanghai is fascinated by the city's structure, human dimensions and landscapes
- Text by Karchun Leung
British photographer Peter Dixie is based in Shanghai and produces images that explore the landscape and the environment of the city. His images convey a sense of the presence, structure and human dimensions of the location. Working and studying in Tokyo and the UK, he finally settled in Shanghai to pursue personal projects culminating in the ongoing series "上海 Hinterland". In June 2011, he founded Shanghai LOTAN Architectural Photography with his wife. He talks to Satellite Voices about candy floss, make up and the rapid development and change of the city's landscape.
Satellite Voices: When did you move to Shanghai, and why would you start your "Hinterland" project?
Peter Dixie: I moved here 2005, but have spent only the last two years on "Hinterland". Originally, I thougth about continuing a photography project that I developed in Tokyo. For many reasons I found this to be impossible and rethought completely my reasons for taking photographs. Eventually I wanted a structured way of approaching a somewhat chaotic place. I also wanted to find a different angle on Shanghai and produce images unlike those I had seen. It was important for me to find consistency in the approach and idea. Once the major decisions regarding structure have been made, aesthetic decisions followed fairly naturally.
SV: What can represent Shanghai the most for you?
Peter Dixie: Moulded plastic bar stools (Magis Bombo copies), VW Santana, Art Deco architecture, Plane trees, Shanghainese, Small ugly dogs with footwear and jackets, middle-aged women in full make-up and candy floss hairstyles.
SV: How would you comment on the rapid development of the city's landscape?
Peter Dixie: Photographs are taken at one time and I do not return to the same locations, so the speed of development is not represented. Rather the extent and nature of development.
SV: Any best keep secret for you about Shanghai that you rarely share with the others?
Peter Dixie: Metro Best Mandheling coffee from Taobao.
SV: From this documenting process about Shanghai, any interesting story to tell?
Peter Dixie: Normally when I go out the trips are rather uneventful. However, one time I was passing through a crossroad surounded by several small shops and restaurants. I paused for a short rest and noticed a rice sack tied up with string in the middle of the road. The wheels of cars and trucks passed by on either side. Unusually the bag was moving. Then when a wheel passed particularly closely I would hear a whine from inside. I waited for a gap in the traffic, walked out and recovered the sack. Something was alive and wriggling inside. I worked the string loose and opened the neck of the sack. A very frightened and dishevelled cat sprung out and darted immediately into the nearest restaurant.
SV: If your best friend is coming to Shanghai, where would you bring him to visit first?
Peter Dixie: Kaiba - good atmosphere, good for conversation, great beer.
Photographer Benoit Florencon goes behind the beat of Shanghai’s underground electronic music scene
Exploring China's contemporary architecture and its Signs of Life