Andi Schmied and Sofia Valiente are two photographers whose focus has consistently been the social space: Schmied’s practice is concerned with the architectural and urban; yet Valiente’s work looks to human relationships. Both artists spend time living in the locations that they photograph, yet their approach in terms of documenting strategy and interventions are very different.
Schmied’s Jing Jin City comprises photographs of Jing Jin, one hour from Beijing, this city is home to a development of 3,000 luxury villas, entertainment complexes and the other commercial miscellanies of a wealthy area. The villas form part of an initiative which intended to rejuvenate Jing Jin as a new, environmentally sustainable and comfortable area. Although construction began in 2002, the majority of the properties are uninhabited; the artist inhabited these empty spaces and, in 2014, created and photographed sculptural and architectural installations within them. Here window panes are balanced against one another in pyramid-like structures around a bare concrete room, or cut grass from a front lawn bristles the flooring of one home’s living room. Accompanying these stark images will be a glossy catalogue produced by the district government, advertising the area’s supposed lavishly furnished homes and thriving community.
Miracle Village meanwhile, documents a small community located on the outskirts of a rural town in Palm Beach County, Florida. The area is currently home to over 100 sex offenders, who have been unable to find housing elsewhere as the law obliges offenders to live a minimum of at least 1,000 feet from any place where children congregate, such as schools or bus stops – which can in practice, be difficult to comply with. Miracle Village was founded by a Christian ministry seeking to make a home for offenders, whose crimes range from serious offences to consensual teenage relationships where one partner was underage, and who vary in age and ethnicity. Over the course of one year Valiente lived among and photographed this community of deeply alienated individuals, whose inhabitants share their stories (via accompanying letters) of estrangement, solitude and rehabilitation as they came to terms with their labels as “sex offenders.”
These two bodies of work reveal young, innovative artists exploring contemporary social and cultural change on a global scale.
Andi Schmied and Sofia Valiente: Jing Jin City and Miracle Village, until 13 February, Daniel Blau, 51 Hoxton Square, London, N1 6PB.
More information is available at www.danielblau.com.
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1. Jing Jin City and Miracle Village, Andi Schmied, 2014. Copyright Andi Schmied. Courtesy Daniel Blau.