Xing Danwen – disCONNEXION, 2002/03

Xing Danwen

My intention is to sketch a visual representation of 21st-century
modernity. I carefully choose direct and intimate moments
to portray the objects that I find. The aesthetic beauty of
the imagery almost transports the photographed objects from
their social and economic context. But I cannot forget the facts
and the reality of what I see.
Since summer 2002, I traveled several times to South China’s
Guangdong Province, one of the most developed areas in
the country. Along the coast, more than 100,000 people from
Guangdong, as well as migrant workers from Western China,
make their living by recycling piles of computer and electronic
trash, operating in rough environmental and social conditions.
This huge amount of e-trash is shipped from industrialized
countries—Japan, South Korea and from the United States,
the largest exporter of e-trash—and dumped here.
We reside in the Information and Communication Era and
therefore we rely, extensively, on these high-tech facilities in our
modern life. Machines become deeply rooted in our daily activities,
replacing the old ways of doing things. Millions of newly
purchased products replace millions of discarded ones. Confronted
with vast piles of dead and deconstructed machines; the
overwhelming number of cords, wires, chips and parts; the clear
indication of the company names, model numbers and even individual
employees, I felt shocked.
Modernization and globalization shape urban development.
In China, I have experienced and witnessed the changes that
have taken place under the influence of Western modernity.
These changes have contributed to a strong and powerful push
for development in my country, but at the same time these forces
are complicit in creating the environmental and social nightmare
experienced in remote corners of China.
I have lived overseas, and I have traveled back and forth
frequently between my mother country and the West. It has informed
my awareness of the conflicts between modernity and
tradition, dreams and reality. These themes have taken on greater
significance in both my artistic practice and in my personal
concerns and have resulted in disCONNEXION.
This body of work is comprised of over 40 images. A number
identifies each work. The concept is to combine multiple images
and create an installation that conveys the immensity of the
problem as well as the unbearable details I witnessed in these


ZNE! returns to the place of the beginning of the traveling exhibition - for the 20th station from May 11th - July 17th 2023 in the Uferhallen in Berlin, for the final analogue explorations in aesthetics and sustainability with a large dialogue program and workshops on natural building materials, for the establishment of a FÄN and for a look at the full ZNE journey and experience route!
Find the concept >here<.