The hutongs of Beijing
Ambroise Tézenas

June 7, 2008 – Sept. 28, 2008 Deze tentoonstelling is afgelopen
Due to the Olympic Games being held in Beijing (from 8 to 24 August) the Kunsthal shows the works of French photographer Ambroise Tézenas. Roaming about the streets of old Beijing, Tézenas has managed to capture on photo the large-scale construction activities in the Chinese capital over a period of five years.

The streets and buildings that Tézenas takes photographs of can be considered as silent witnesses of the economic progress of a metropolis-to-be. His monumental photographs show the historical city of Beijing which contrasts strongly with the changes and alterations the city is undergoing at the moment. Narrow streets, called hutongs, ancient neighbourhoods and expropriated houses are pulled down at a good pace in order to make way for modern high-rise buildings, shopping centres, broad avenues and highways.


The Olympic Games in Beijing have greatly increased the pace at which the construction activities take place. Within a period of time of less than ten years an area the size of the city of Paris has been pulled down and has been built on all over again. Tézenas' work indicates the enormous transformation process currently taking place in China, where political decision-making sharply contrasts with the preservation of history and the needs of the local inhabitants. From the (nighttime) shots taken by Tézenas a surreal city emerges, between high-rise buildings blazing with light, hoisting cranes and debris, in which human beings can hardly be found anywhere. Only at the building sites, where work goes on both day and night, workmen are present. The tragedies that are undoubtedly evoked by the ever progressing, brute force of the construction industry can only be surmised.

Ambroise Tézenas

Ambroise Tézenas (Paris, 1972) finished his education at the École d'Arts Appliqués (EAA Photography) in Vevey, Switzerland in 1994. As a press photographer he produced reports of amongst others the confession of Catholic faith in France (1997), the rehabilitation of road victims (1998) and the retrocession of the Panama Canal (1999). From 2000 to 2002 he worked for an agency called Editing, publishing regularly in both the French and the international press.
Since 2002 Tézenas has aimed at more free assignments in the fields of stage-management and landscape. 


Hutongs van Beijing, published by Mets & Schilt (ISBN 978 90 5330 527 0)

09) A. Tézenas - Hutongs of Beijing - LR.jpg
02) A. Tézenas - Hutongs of Beijing - LR.jpg