COLORS 70: Beijing chronicles

Monograph on the Chinese capital presented today in the city

Beijing, March 5th, 2007. In the run up to the 2008 Olympic Games, Beijing is undergoing a rapid transformation -as is the whole of China- from a city of ancient culture to a capitalism-driven megalopolis. The city is seen through the everyday stories of its inhabitants narrated by two of Fabrica’s young Chinese artists. Beijing is the protagonist of COLORS 70, the new issue presented today in the Chinese capital at a roundtable with Luciano Benetton; Marco Mueller, head of Fabrica Cinema and China expert; Chinese film director Zhang Yuan; the magazine’s two young writers, Chen Jiaojiao and Peng Yangjun; two Fabrica artists, Amélie Marciasini and Diego Hurtado; Paolo Landi, Benetton advertising director and Colors’s editor-in-chief.

Starting from a long-held axiom -the West’s limited knowledge of China, apart from a few stereotypes- Colors chose two young Chinese photographers who combed Beijing high and low in search of pictures and stories about ordinary people to give us a clearer idea of the social shifts and relationship changes in a country speeding towards the future. This is something more than just a photo shoot or press report. It’s a fully-fledged monograph issue by Chen Jiaojiao and Peng Yangjun, who developed the project, took the photos and created the graphics and articles. In other words, an issue of Colors entirely Made in China, that imports Chinese creativity to Italy to belie the common belief that sees the dragon rampant as simply a place of industrial and manufacturing delocalisation.

Colors 70 talks of a city where building sites are floodlit and in full swing at two o’clock in the morning, where the inhabitants are busy learning English in record time, and where street signposting changes from one day to the next, as do the regulations governing the city’s much-discussed apartment dogs.

There are, above all, the stories of many people eager to express their feelings about the city, the country and life itself. And so we discover that, for example, if you buy a betrothal gift and you want to respect tradition you must spend RMB 50,000 [US$6,250], the equivalent of about 13 years’ savings for a normal family. Or we learn from Mao’s personal seamstress how she created the president’s outfit, the one immortalised in his famous portrait. And we relive the epoch-changing events that transformed Chinese society through the story of a 90-year-old princess of the Qing dynasty -which ruled the country before the Communist regime- who was directly involved in the events as first a princess, then a prisoner and, lastly, an ordinary citizen.

Distributed in over 40 countries, published in three editions and four languages and with one of the most-visited and critically acclaimed websites, Colors is a quarterly magazine read by young people around the world. Founded in 1991, from an idea of Luciano Benetton and Oliviero Toscani, under the editorship of Tibor Kalman, and based on the conviction that diversity is positive and all cultures have the same value, today Colors is part of the publishing activities of Fabrica, Benetton’s communication research centre. Fabrica’s new architectural complex, restored and enlarged by Japanese architect Tadao Ando, houses Colors’s editorial office, which also benefits from the contributions of a network of external consultants across the globe.


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