This is the story of a field in front of my house in Kunming, China.
I lived there for almost seven years, in a beautiful condo in the northern area of the city. From my window, I saw the slow-developing of the area and the changing of the habits of the local people.
When I moved to the new apartment, the field was partially cultivated. Local people used to go there to fly their kites, especially the elderly and the kids.
The field was the perfect place to celebrate the Chinese New Year with fireworks.
In August people celebrated the Hungry Ghost Festival burning incenses and offers to placate the ghosts.
In the middle of the field there was an abandoned factory.
During the raining season the field was completely flooded.
Workers started to build a wall around the field. Its destiny was signed.
At the beginning a local company wanted to build a park, then they decided to build a hospital.
The Chinese character 拆 (chai) means “to be demolished”
A hall in the abandoned factory
The factory was spooky at night!
Soon the wall was completed.
The first trucks and bulldozers appeared in the field.
However they didn’t have any clue of what they were doing.
People observing the works.
Another Chunjie celebration.
This time, locals were more organized and they sold fireworks directly on the spot.
They were gorgeous!
Soon, the old factory was demolished.
During the summer the ground was covered by thick, green grass.
The construction company began to dig the ground.
The sheeps didn’t care.
For few months the works were stopped for some bureaucratic problem.
A paved road crossing the field was finally built.
The first holes were covered for some reason. The local construction company changed its plan and soon the works started again.
One day a fire burnt a portion of the field.
Hundred of trucks started to arrive in the field, day and night.
Despite the works, local people still enjoyed flying kites.
The first of a long lines of fireworks booths for the Chinese New Year celebration.
The construction company began to dig other holes.
Old people flying kites.
A torrid April.
At the end of April, the rain came down filling the empty building foundations.
For some reason, the works were suspended again.
Kids were attracted by the pools.
Every day they used to play and take a bath in the dirty mud water.
Then, one day a young boy drowned in the pool. Police arrived and they carried away the dead body.
This was the story of the field in front of my house, in Kunming.
Update 2020: For anyone curious, eventually, they made a hospital, a commercial center, and a few residential buildings.
Photos by Matteo Damiani
CHINA-UNDERGROUND. Matteo Damiani is an Italian sinologist, photographer, author and motion designer. Matteo lived and worked for ten years in China. Founder of CinaOggi.it and China-underground.com.