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Beijing’s Old and Young Generations

Photographer Noemi Cassanelli captures the contrasts of two very different generations in Beijing

09·20·2011

Beijing’s Old and Young Generations

Photographer Noemi Cassanelli captures the contrasts of two very different generations in Beijing

09·20·2011

Beijing is a city of contrasts. Everywhere you look ancient history clashes with breakneck modernization, as old stone hutongs are knocked down in favor of towering glass skyscrapers. But this isn’t just a battle of architecture—it’s a constant push-and-pull between old and young, tradition and innovation, that affects everything from culture, to lifestyle and ideology.

It was the compelling nature of this tension that brought me to Beijing, my trusty Canon 5D in hand, to document the city’s changes. In May 2010 I documented this search as a project so I could share it with others.

The project “2 ages” is my attempt to portray two generations: young people marked by vanity and extravagance are placed in direct counterpoint to some of the city’s more humble elderly, who are captured in moments of their everyday lives in Beijing’s traditional hutongs. Though the two generations live side by side, they encompass starkly different hopes, dreams and histories.

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Sometimes it’s the very youngest of generations that have it the toughest. Meet the people doing something to change that.