In the spotlight ︎China | 4th Dec to 29th of Feb 2022 ︎


The start of the Anthropocene at the end of the 18th century spurred rapid urbanization. Cities swiftly grew at a scale that had been unimaginable in the past, radically changing urban life in unprecedented ways. Denizens witnessed the birth of diverse communities and cultures, increased mobility between cities and across national boundaries, and the development of management and planning measures based on new technologies. This major shift marked a complete turn from excessive expansion to sustainable development. Visual mediums similarly took on more expansive roles in urban life and space due to technological advances facilitating the emergence of tools like analog and later digital photography, along with smartphones, social media, and the ubiquitous LED screen. The constant production of an excess of images, together with changes in urbanism have reshaped the relationship between photography and cities.

The exhibition "Building Illusions" examinesthe continuously transforming and evolving relationship between cities and photography within multiple historical contexts.

Technical Data  Original title: Building Illusions: Images and the City
Project: Aquellos Que Esperan. Vol. 03: “Familiar screens”
Where: Exhibition in Chengdu Contemporary Image Museum. China
Dates: 4th Dec to 29th of Feb 2022  
Curators: Duan Yuting / Hu Ruohao / Aquellos Que Esperan
Texts and Images: Aquellos Que Esperan
Design: Aquellos Que Esperan
Production Co.: The Kids Are Right
Original Language: Chinese, English


This is La Courneuve, but it could be anywhere else.
This is Orcasur, but it could be anywhere else.
This is Cité Modèle, but it could be anywhere else.

The quest for standardization by urbanistic currents provokes everyday scenes that repeat themselves. Connections then appear between collective identities, between the local and the global.

Aquellos Que Esperan presents with “Familiar screens” the similarities found in the different peripheries of three large cities: The Orcasur neighborhood in Madrid, the cité de la Courneuve on the outskirts of Paris and the Cité Modelé neighborhood on Brussels.

We see how the inhabitants of the three places recognize the scenes portrayed in the other two neighborhoods and judge them, sometimes with indifference, sometimes with a pleasant feeling of similarity and sometimes with the same social prejudice with which the three neighborhoods are observed by the mass media and by the populations outside them.

The typology of buildings in the form of linear blocks, towers and closed blocks, spread internationally as a solution to the massive growth of cities. These new places are conceived as “The modernist architect’s urbanistic dream”. A monument to housing, a city of the future, drawn according to a strict orthogonal plan, to create an “order against the chaos” that, according to them, was spreading in the periphery.

Time and facts speak of the failure of these models and show us that the same set of measures applied on a large scale will produce identical or very similar results in different societies and at different times.

Awards & Grants

Magnum Photos’ Mentorship: Peter Marlow, Peter van Agtmael & Mark Power
Descubrimientos PhotoEspaña
PhotoEspaña - Book of the year. Shortlist
Les Rencontres d´Arles - Author Book Award. Shortlist
Artists in residence at the Circulation(s)
Carte blanche. Exhibition Le CentQuatre-Paris
Acción Cultural Española. Ministerio Español de Educación, Cultura y Deporte

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