Old Xichang on the Threshold of It's New Future

Although I hate to admit it, Xichang will never be the same. This, of course, counts for every place which person experience in a certain period. As de Certeau states: "Memory is only a Prince Charming who stays just long enough to awaken the Sleeping Beauties of our wordless stories." I cannot count for how many times the Chinese reality hurt me so deeply already. The transformation from the so-called "backwardness" into the "modernity" through jingji fazhan, an absolute truth and according to those 2500+ old men ruling this massive country the only acceptable and moral track towards the future of China, brought a total disaster to the Xichang unique blend of lifestyles. Luckily, I was able to live through it during my 2014-2015 stay. After that, the city authorities began with the demolition of the old quarter, which still remembered the city's Ming/Qing period old name - Jianchang. I knew this is going to happen. Therefore I focused on documenting all interesting details. Of course, details interesting to me are not necessarily attractive to the locals. This tentative gallery is just a small part of it. I was prepared that the place will be gone one day, but when this day came, it broke my heart, and I am sure it broke many hearts and communities of the local people. It came so suddenly that the lady who just opened her secret family recipe liangcha business in one of the old houses was given just 72 hours to move away through an eviction order. I was a witness of her protests on the street, which was heard by locals, but it did not change anything. However, some of the residents see the changes in a positive light. They expect their livelihoods to be improved. I am just an observer from outside, and I probably do not possess a right to judge this. I can only say that I was devastated maybe more than those old and crumbling houses in the Southern Street.


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