Chongqing Night, Chongqing 2019

Like a dull set of teeth poised to take a bite out of the heavens, the serrated skyline rears up from the ground. Ships, green banks, muddy water. Stores and office blocks on streets like asphalt canyons, teeming with people. An aspiring middle-class first goes to work then goes shopping. There’s no sign of stress, only resigned diligence – as if they’ve already seen it all, as if nothing more could ever surprise them. Dense swaths of fog roll down the surrounding mountains, enveloping the city. They keep the locals cool and seem to lend a certain spiritual aura to the overriding obsession with order. Not that we can feel a heartbeat, but there is a rhythm: tick tock, tick tock, like an old clock.

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Chongqing, a megacity in the southwest of China, is home to some 15 million people, while double that number live in its greater metropolitan region, an area the size of Austria and part of the same municipality. “Dual celebration” is the literal meaning of Chongqing. It was named so by Zhao Dun, Prince of Guangzong, after he was appointed and then made Emperor of the Song Dynasty in the same year, 1189. The name is both a legacy and an oracle: it stands for social advancement, prosperity, and power, universal grounds for diverse celebrations.

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