Location: Outdoor on Järnvägsgatan.

Alain Delorme, born 1979, is a French photographer who has had acclaimed exhibitions in museums and galleries around the world.

His ‘Totem’ series from 2010 shows men who transport unreasonably high stacks of goods on bicycles and cartst hrough the city. The photographs have been called “masterful expressions of China – the world’s factory and the market economy’s new El Dorado.” But all that shines in the east is not real gold. Nor is it the case with these photographs.

The images are altered in Photoshop, and Alain Delorme is not trying to hide this fact. Rather the opposite. He is more than happy to tell you how he went about it:

“I cycled around Shanghai six hours a day for six weeks. Then I worked on creating the Totem series for a year. I used 6,000 photographs to create 18 images retouched beyond recognition. Not even people living in Shanghai could say where in the city the picture was taken. I increased the amount of goods on the vehicles to give the impression that the carrier, usually a migrant, is being swallowed up. I wanted to show a form of slavery. The symbols of wealth that the migrants shipped around were a shocking contrast to their own poverty. “

At first, Western viewers do not usually notice the manipulation: “That’s surely what China’s mass production system looks like.” 

But then the feeling creeps in that the height of the stacked goods cannot possibly be true. An interpretation of the artist’s intentions emerges: Men on bicycles are rushing against a backdrop of pulsating construction sites. A city is in a race towards the future. Skyscrapers are the new totem poles. Like stacks of consumer goods produced for western countries. Delorme wants to convey both humour and poetry. But it is as if he wants to warn us at the same time. We cannot continue like this. Sooner or later, everything will collapse.