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Herkki-Erich Merila

Acclaimed Estonian photo artist Herkki-Erich Merila casts an inquiring eye over the architecture and people of an anonymous Chinese metropolis.


The global population has more than doubled in the last 50 years. While a growing number of people around the world have moved to the cities. In China, the world’s most populous country, huge residential areas are witness to this vast increase in movement and growth. In Chongqing alone, a comparatively anonymous Chinese city, there are 30 million inhabitants and housing them has turned this settlement with a history of more than 2000 years into a megalopolis.

Herkki-Erich Merila (1964) is known for his press and fashion photography as well as his art projects. If with the former meanings are created more by the clothes and products surrounding them than the models themselves, then in his artistic work Merila frees human bodies from this burden. His work in recent years brings together naked bodies with ever greater architectural forms (e.g. Carceres series 2011–2013).


Therefore, in Merila’s work, we see progressively fewer people and at the exhibition Hyperpolis we do not see them at all. Although we know that there are millions and millions of people in Chongqing, the photographs document an almost deserted ghost town. And the photographer, who usually stages his images carefully, is almost entirely non-intrusive behind the camera.


Thanks to: Cultural Endowment of Estonia, Ministry of Culture, Tallinn Department of Culture, Veinisõber, Print24