Volume 75, Number 22 | October 19 - 22, 2005

Photo illustration of a film installation with scenes from Shanghai and Nanning as it will look on Canal and Centre Sts.

A view of Shanghai coming to a building near you

By Caitlin Eichelberger

The hustle and bustle of two Asian cities will compete with the flurry of Chinatown’s street activity this week.

As part of TRANSITIO, a global public arts series, video images of Nanning and Shanghai will be projected onto the facade of a Chinatown building at the corner of Canal and Centre Sts. The 40-minute unedited, non-narrative film of life and leisure in the Chinese cities will begin rolling Thursday evening, Oct. 20.

The purpose of the project, created by New York-based Brazilian artist Solange Fabiao and sponsored by the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, is to create “a city within a city” by juxtaposing images of one metropolis with another. While filming a city — usually from a moving vehicle — Fabiao proceeds without any preconceived plan. The objective, she said, is to capture the detail of movement and the surprise of a moment.

“There is no storyboard,” she said. “It is all about the interaction. When you see the video, maybe you are going to see one of the multiple stories that unfold.”

Fabiao said she is interested in promoting “a global dialogue” and in prompting viewers to consider their city’s relationship to its counterparts across the world.

The project’s arrival in Chinatown further complicates the nuance. Residents of and visitors to Chinatown will experience a “parallel present” by catching glimpses of Shanghai and Nanning citizens going about their day, just as they do half a world away, Fabiao said.

Fabiao added that the video may bring a view of the cities to those who are unable to visit China, and perhaps “it will be emotional — they will have to tell me,” she said.

“We’re very excited about having living art in Chinatown,” said Linda Ayares, senior vice president of M. Silver Associates, which represents Explore Chinatown.

The first video of the 5-year-old series was recorded from the backseat of a New York City cab. Fabiao captured street life all along the length of Broadway from 228th St. in Washington Heights down to Wall St. After running at a Chelsea gallery in 2001, the video reached its first international audience in Mexico City nine days after 9/11, an event, she said, that transformed the meaning of the project.

“It [came] into a new dimension,” she said. “It was a moment before Sept. 11, and so in a way it became an homage to New York City and to Broadway.”

In 2004, the Broadway video was projected onto the City Center Dome in central Beirut. When Fabiao recorded Broadway, she did not intend it to be the first of a series. Intrigued by the video, Fabiao realized she had stumbled onto something. “I thought, ‘Wow, this is very exciting that I have something to keep working with.’”

Fabiao found herself filming from the backseat of a cab after a trip to the desert in Tucson, Ariz., where she first started experimenting with movement.

Fabio, educated in architecture, digital media and art history, has worked as a set designer and industrial designer in addition to artistic pursuits like TRANSITIO and has lived in New York City for 10 years.

Installments in Los Angeles, Beijing and Rio de Janeiro are planned for 2006. The film will play on the Canal and Centre Sts. wall continuously from 6:30 p.m. to 11 p.m. every day until the series ends Oct. 31.

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