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Sure shot – at the edge of the city in China, shot by Lv Meng

Lv Meng's entry to the BJP Breakthrough Awards 2017. This single image, which shows a tree in the middle of a construction site, comes from a series looking at the growth of Chinese cities, called Urban Fringes © Lv Meng

Lv Meng discovered a peach tree in full bloom on a construction site at the edges one of China's rapidly-expanding cities

“In the blind pursuit of urban modernisation, culture and history, and cities’ characteristics as well, are swallowed by an array of skyscrapers, get engulfed by the torrent of desire,” says Lv Meng of his project Urban Fringes, which he’s been working on since 2014, and which considers the spread of megalopolises in China.

“Scenery can strongly negate the illusory meaning which we gave to a place; a familiar face we had loved for months or years can suddenly turn into a stranger. That denseness and that strangeness of the world is the absurd,”  adds Meng, who says he’s inspired by French author Albert Camus.

In the midst of this blur, stumbling on a peach tree in full bloom in the middle of a construction site struck Meng with the force of a revelation. Seeing it give life and fruit in an otherwise wholly man-made environment left him “shock”, he says – but as he moved closer, his surprise sadly turned to revulsion.

“It was ‘protected’ by a large piece of mesh fabric in the construction site, but when I walked closer, it turned out that under the mesh there was lots of construction waste and household garbage, sending out an acrid and repulsive smell,” says Meng. “The beautiful blooms seemed lonely and desolate. Sadly, it reminded me of the fact that soon it would be razed to the ground, into dull but common urban landscape with standing skyscrapers.”

As such, the image summed up all of the ideas Meng has been working on so far in his project, and it went on to be a runner-up in the graduate single image category of BJP’s Breakthrough competition. Even so, Meng will continue to document the development of China’s cities, as they expand into the country and its history.

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