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25 · 07 · 2018

23% Beijing – A Mental Map of Dongcheng District

23% Beijing

 

How does the life quality of citizens in Beijing compare to the Danish capital?

 

After weeks of exclusive focus on Copenhagen, Danish Cultural Center offers a unique view on Dongcheng District, the part of the Chinese capital which is most similar to Copenhagen with regards to demographics and population.

 

 

My 96-year-old mom suffered from starvation and wars throughout the 20th Century while devoting herself completely to her children. So we should do everything we can for her now.
AUNT WANG /59 / FEMALE / HAN / SINGLE / RETIRED / HOMETOWN BEIJING / HUKOU BEIJING

For decades, economic growth has been the overriding agenda for China’s politics. Although the country’s real GDP per capita has multiplied more than 500%, there is no indication in this measurement of how the accompanying structural changes have impacted on people’s lives. In contrast, the measurement of SWB – subjective well being index – is on average, less than 25%, compared with less than a quarter of a century ago. By using the SWB, we have a better chance at capturing these new concerns, that emerged from Chinas unprecedented transition.

 

It is from this perspective, that the artist behind 100% Copenhagen, presently exhibited in Danish Cultural Center, Maja Eriksen, prepared a mini mental mapping of the district based on 23 persons, which together represent a diverse group in terms of age, gender, lifestyle, occupation and income level. They were all asked the same questions: How happy are you on a scale from one to ten? – Why? And what is most important to your individual happiness?

 

The resulting portraits form a snapshot that unveils some interesting issues concerning individual happiness in Beijing. These include private/public ownership, identity confusion, generational tensions, migration, work pressure, pollution, rights, and loss of heritage.

 

 

Map of Dongcheng district, Beijing

The persons are:

  • a philosopher, a student returned from the US, a Cat Café owner, a model, an advertising agent, a banker, a hairdresser, a retired soldier, a civil servant, a cultural heritage officer, a feminist, a TCM practitioner, a green peace campaigner, a transgender person, a journalist, an architect, a disabled person, a 96 year old woman, a nurse, a musician, a migrant worker, a teacher, and a freelancer.

 

The resulting portraits form a snapshot that unveils some interesting issues concerning individual happiness in Beijing. These include private/public ownership, identity confusion, generational tensions, migration, work pressure, pollution, rights, and loss of heritage.

 

 

Chong Li
I think change is good. Changes that would take 10 years, when I was a kid, take only one year today. My personal happiness is very much a result of the rapid changes in society.

Chong Li /59 / MALE / MANCHU / MARRIED WITH CHILDREN / RETIRED / HOMETOWN BEIJING / HUKOU BEIJING
XIE LI
My personal happiness relies on the sense of authentic connection. I often find it hard to adapt to the speed and all the possibilities – figuring out what is fake and what is real.
XIE LI / 40 / FEMALE / HAN / SINGLE / CULTURE HERITAGE CONSERVATION / HOMETOWN SHANDONG / HUKOU BEIJING

Photos and text: Maja Nydal Eriksen, graphic design: Elisavet Papageorgiou.

Assistant Cai Xinhuan, Institute for Provocation

Residency project funded by: S.C Van Foundation and Danish Arts Council

Production: Danish Cultural Center and Institute For Provocation