THE WORLD ATLAS OF STREET PHOTOGRAPHY
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"Lima, the capital of Peru, is one of the world's fast emerging megacities. With a population approaching nine million, it is home to a third of all Peruvians and ranks as the fifth largest city in the Americas. Yet it is growing at an accelerated rate and this relentless expansion sprawls both outwards and skywards. Edi Hirose has never lived anywhere other than Lima and he watched how his neighbourhood of Miraflores transformed as the real estate boom took hold in 2008. 'The place I live in was the fastest district to change,' he recalls. 'There was a vast amount of new construction occurring in a very short time.' Every day would bring new surprises; he saw old edifices being knocked down and rapidly replaced by taller, modern facades. As the city grew and changed shape, he began to realize that he was witnessing something unprecedented. 'I decided to start photographing my immediate neighbourhood in 2008 and I am still working on the project,' he explains. 'I had no idea how big it would become.' The resulting series, 'Expansión 1', documents Lima's skyline in the process of formation and transformation. Hirose used a distant and deadpan gaze to create an aesthetic that seems to privilege surface over content. This acts to enable the viewer to forget that these facades hide offices and homes — an effect heightened by Hirose's decision to explicitly exclude any evidence of people within the frame.
Instead the imagery presents buildings as perpendicular, blocklike patterns of colours, tones and textures that look more akin to sculptural instalments. 'The work points to the facade as a notion of limit; a surface that defines the private from the public,' he asserts. Yet, he is swift to point out the social implications of the photographed facade: 'It is also associated with a zone of conflict. It effectively represents the social tension that exists between the adjacent property borders.' Throughout the construction boom, Hirose notes how it was common for developers to start building without proper planning and that they would press ahead with whatever suited them. 'In Lima,' he concludes, 'this individualistic thinking has led to a city with "blind" walls, where no one seems to care about their neighbours.' As the project took shape, Hirose found himself travelling beyond Lima and he noticed that the construction boom had spread. He started to photograph other cities for the series, such as Cajamarca and Pasco. He became fascinated by what was happening at the city borders, where the artificial and natural landscapes collide; thus began the second volume of the project. 'Now I'm working on "Expansion 2,"' says Hirose. 'This next stage focuses on the transformation of the natural landscape as a result of our progress. I don't know what "Expansion 3" is about yet, time will tell.' Inevitably perhaps, Hirose's ongoing 'Expansion' project will continue to expand, mirroring its subject, but even in these early stages, this body of work enables us to look at the city from a distance, as a phenomenon that seems to pulse, grow and consume: a living creature with its own mind and will"