6 years ago

The Blockbuster Issue

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TRAVEL dialogue between

TRAVEL dialogue between the local Shanghainese and the expat foreign cultures.” Indeed, as Xu alludes, the city’s foreign community reflects an 800-year legacy of international trade in and around Shanghai – from Marco Polo in the 13th century to the European colonial times to a grand opening of a new Apple store. to be hammered down, but eventually even they make way for the new construction. The streets of constant local activity are turned into nine-to-five office blocks as well as shopping malls and serviced apartment blocks. It’s futile to decry change, because change is the very fuel of China’s engine, and China’s engine is helping run the modern world. You can mourn the passing of local communities, but for many families who resided in the old town their enforced move is a chance of upward mobility – some of these old wooden houses don’t even have an indoor toilet. In a perfect example of the push-pull of Shanghai’s traditional life meeting the white heat of modernity, on these same streets it’s an everyday sight to see a ,000 car parked outside a food shack, the car’s owner sitting on a low plastic chair on the pavement eating a bowl of beef noodles on the communal rickety tables. Continue walking through the old town and you’ll quickly enter Shanghai’s most famous quarter – the French Concession – a colonial enclave controlled by France from 1849 until 1943. Stroll down some tree-lined streets and you’ll swear you’re in a Parisian arrondissement, with old villas, cafés and boulangeries – and lots of French people. It’s where you’ll find many boutiques, bars and art gal leries, including Leo Xu Projects, an internationally acclaimed gallery run by Shanghainese local Leo Xu. “The French Concession has a rich cultural and architectural legacy, and if you live here it’s very cosy and convenient,” he explains. “The lifestyle is all about pastimes, nightlife and the arts.” The district is synonymous with Shanghai’s past, and although you may think that anything old is denigrated and bulldozed, the French Concession remains the city’s protected cultural heart: “Shanghai is all about fusion and reinvention. There’s a continuous transformation of the cultural landscape due to the strong and on-going Shanghai’s most notable feature is its speed of life. Leave for a week and upon your return you’ll be greeted with new roads and businesses. It’s like the city-building video game SimCity on ‘Cheetah’ setting. Social change also happens quickly, meaning it’s a fascinating place for any cultural observer. There are many examples: Four years ago it was uncommon to find an independent shop selling wine – although it was readily available in supermarkets and restaurants. Then suddenly independent wine boutiques and bars were everywhere. As the rising middle classes became oenophiles, Chinese companies bought vineyards and distributors imported more, with the result that China is now the world’s largest market for red wine and cognac. There have also been social shifts in imported beer and coffee culture – a move away from traditional tea. There’s also been a shift towards non-conspicuous luxury (China is now the world’s second largest luxury market). There are fewer monogrammed handbags being sold as fashion becomes less about a logo and more about each brand’s nuanced design philosophy – there’s less Chanel and Gucci and more Balenciaga and Margiela than five years ago. One part of the city’s culture that hasn’t changed is its jazz scene. American Brian McKay has been a resident for ten years and last December opened what’s already become a highly regarded jazz club called Heyday. “Shanghai in the 1930s was a very international city. It was a place where East and West were meeting, where there was sophistication and glamour, and it was a time when there was growth and opportunity,” he notes, acknowledging that he could be talking about the city in 2015. Plus ça change... as you might overhear in the French Concession. Shanghai may be moving fast, but it’s a city very much aware of its historical role and importance as a cultural meeting place. Indeed, if London was the world’s capital in the Swinging 60s and New York was the same in the 80s, then arguably Shanghai is today’s global capital, as the Middle Kingdom becomes increasingly central to the success of our quickly modernising world. 40 j THE BLOCKBUSTER ISSUE

THERE’S A CONTINUOUS TRANSFORMATION OF THE CULTURAL LANDSCAPE DUE TO THE STRONG AND ON-GOING DIALOGUE BETWEEN THE LOCAL SHANGHAINESE AND THE EXPAT FOREIGN CULTURES TALL TOWERS, LONG NIGHTS Opposite page: The city isn’t short of landmark buildings, from the 101-floor SWFC “Bottle Opener” (left) to the latest 121-floor Shanghai Tower (right). This page: The metropolis by night THE BLOCKBUSTER ISSUE j 41

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Jaguar Magazine celebrates creativity in all its forms, with exclusive features that inspire sensory excitement, from beautiful design to cutting-edge technology.

In this issue, we explore the art of creativity from the Brazilian masters who devised the graceful art of Capoeira, to the Irish artists mixing new culture with old. You will also discover the creative line that links Victorian wallpaper to the iPhone. While the multi-talented actor and performer, Riz Ahmed, explains why it is the right time to reveal his true self to the world.


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