Wang Jinsong “One hundred Signs of Demolition”, 1999
"Chai“ is the Chinese word for "demolition." Its graphic symbol shows up all over a photograph by Wang Jinsong (b. 1963) with the telling title "One hundred Signs of Demolition." The picture shows Chinese signs sprayed on many building fronts by the municipal building inspectorate, suggesting that inhabitants look for a new place to live, because their house will be torn down soon and fall victim to the construction of a modern skyscraper. The actual structures and functions of these buildings cannot even be guessed at, as Jinsong focuses rather on the causes of urban change, as much as those responsible for it.
The sign for demolition symbolizes the radical transformation of city landscapes; throughout Beijing, entire neighborhoods have been guillotined by order of the city's building inspectorate. The absence of human beings--the real victims of the eradication--in combination with the cool, off-putting sign for demolition, makes these photographs sharp criticism, if not an outright accusation, of the city's building policy.