“Finally,within a huge and sombre mass of things, a blackened people, who live and die in silence.  Thousands of beings, who follow a fatal instinct, pursuing gold with good and evil means.”- Charles Baudelaire, Flowers of Evil (Les Fleurs de Mal)

As Baudelaire described the masses of urban residents filling the streets of 19th century Paris in its industrial heyday, so too could one feel lost amidst the dizzying urban environments of 21st century China, filled with the spirit of progress, money-making, striving.  But in the midst of anonymity, repetitiveness, soulless slabs of identical buildings, one can sometimes find scenes of unexpected beauty.

It’s not the beauty of old European city centers like Paris, or even the sleek yet singular modernity of Tokyo.  There are no grand old opera houses, fashionable coffee houses, echoes of literary and cultural figures of centuries past.  Rather, this is the beauty of simple moments: times when the dirtiness and inchoate cityscape falls away for just a split second to reveal the imprints of culture, humanity, unexpected patterns in the constantly changing landscape.

The following photos are a collection taken throughout 2012, in various cities around China.

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Xi’an: An International Metropolis

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Xi’an: In an Urban Village

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Chongqing

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Wuhan

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By the lake, Kaifeng

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Qingming Scroll, Kaifeng

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Xi’an

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Xiamen

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Multi-modal transit, Xi’an

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Bell Tower Plaza, Xi’an

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“To Get Rich is Glorious”,  Xi’an

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Street panorama, Xi’an

 

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Plaza at the Southeast Corner of the City Wall, Xi’an