Ni Haifeng
Photographic series: No-Man's-Land
Home No-Man's-Land

The physical horizon which extends 16 kilometres from our retina and which used to define not only landscapes but also what is new to come, is disappearing in today's urban landscape. This disappearance is best seen in the theme park Madurodam or any other kind of Disney-esque no-man's-land.
My photographic series No-Man's-Land depict urban landscapes that are not real. The images were taken in the aforementioned theme park - Madurodam - a meticulously constructed miniature replica of the best Holland for fun. But it is more than that, for me Madurodam is a reflection of the very flatness of our present day living environment. The distinction between the reality in which we live and a 'programmed unreality' to which we pay occasional visits, is not so clear as we might think. In other words, the distance between the real and the unreal is dangerously close.
The photographs manifest a certain kind of distortedness of the near and the far, and of the pollution of distance and perspective. The urban landscapes here are rendered flat, thin, 'unused' or 'in mint condition', and hence absurd.

On another level, Madurodam is an anthropological monument built in the 50s to commemorate the West Indian born wartime hero - George Maduro, a monument which meant, at the same time, to represent the best of George Maduro's fatherland. In a 1:25 scale, the Madurodam city has amassed a vast array of the country's leading landmarks over the years and The Dutch Queen Beatrix was once the mayor of this simulated city. Thus Madurodam is, properly speaking, not a miniature model, but living simulacra that works. In that, the trains, automobiles, ships and aircrafts (though they never take off) shuffle around year in year out, and seagulls squawk and nest among the plastic people who never move. In my opinion Madurodam oscillates between being a kind of artificial Lilliput and (more seriously) the representation of the Dutch imaginary - how the Netherlands ought to look like and what is the best Dutchness. In this sense No-Man's-Land can be read as a mockery of the 'glossy portfolio' of the national representation.

No-Man's-Land, etymologically, means a bordering area that no one owns and no one controls. As a title it suggests a place somewhere between the real and the unreal, between the reality and the imaginary. Also reading literally, it is a place where no one lives.

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