City - 2ND PLACE WINNER: Kai Caemmerer
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Unborn Cities is a body of work that explores the architectural structures and physical growth of new cities located in inner-mainland China. Unlike many Western cities that begin as small developments and grow in accordance to the local industries, gathering community and history as they age, many of the new cities located in inner mainland China are built to the point of near-completion before people arrive. Because of this, there is an interim period between the final phases of development and when the areas become noticeably populated — and until then, many of the buildings stand empty.
During this phase of development, Western media often describe these areas as defunct “ghost cities,” which fails to recognize that they are built on an urban model, timeline and scale that is simply unfamiliar within Western urbanization. Using large-scale photographs that look at the architecture and sites of development within these cities and “new areas,” I emphasize both the vast scale and lack of history in these spaces, making enigmatic images that reflect the shifted sense of reality felt in a city that has yet to be inhabited by the people it was built for; a city without history, that feels more like an architectural model than a place for living.
Kai M. Caemmerer (b.1988) lives and works in Chicago, IL. His current work explores aspects of urban space and its perpetual development. He earned his BA in photography from Western Washington University and his MFA in photography from Columbia College Chicago. He has recently received recognition and support from the Stuart R. Abelson Foundation, the People’s Government of Shangrao City, the Luminarts Foundation, and the Dave Bown Projects grant.