Photographer Alnis Stakle lives and works in Latvia. He holds a PhD in art education. Since 1998, his works have been exhibited in the Latvian Museum of Photography, Latvian National Museum of Art, The Latvian Centre for Contemporary Art, Modern Art Oxford (GB), Langhans gallery in Prague (CZ), Art Center ‘Winzavod’ in Moscow (RU), and many other museums or galleries worldwide.
His latest photography project, “Shangri-La”, was shot in 2013 and focuses on China’s hot zone of economic activity, exploring contemporary cityscape transformations in Shanghai, Suzhou, Hangzhou, Shenzhen and Guangzhou. Special attention is given to territories with semi-cleared old buildings in preparation for construction of new skyscraper precincts. At night, the cityscape reveals how urban planning, housing, tearing down and construction transpire on an apocalyptic scale, which is particularly fascinating in view of the fact that semi-cleared buildings continue to be inhabited.
Shangri-La is an imaginary place in China, described as a mystical and Utopian valley shielded from the world by a chain of mountains—a true paradise on Earth.
At present, China is right there among the world’s most booming economies. It is estimated that over the next ten years its population growth will reach skyrocketing proportions. This will result in unprecedented levels of industrialization and urbanization—a reality of life that billions of Chinese will be facing already in the coming decade. In contemporary China, cities populated by millions have become a magnetic promised land for hordes of gold-diggers and aspiring wannabes from rural areas. According to current estimates, by 2030 the urban population of China will reach one billion. To house all these people, 50000 new skyscrapers will need to be built—an amount that equals 10 New York Cities.