Finally, we have a brutally realistic, yet beautiful large-format photo-documentary of China, done by an American, that depicts with admirable precision the profound contradictions of that country’s development into a super-power. Following in the footsteps of Joel Sternfeld, who brought street photography into the American boondocks, Daniel Traub has chosen to photograph the marginal spaces where desperate migrants from China’s hinterland mix uneasily with nouveaux-riches exurbanites on the “city’s edge.” Nothing can top Traub’s shot of a refuse-ridden migrant encampment on the outskirts of Beijing that is nestled in the woods and outdoes, along the same trajectory, any decrepit rural American trailer park, spent mattresses and all. This is not the China of starry-eyed Westerners eager to capture a past that never was, or of the rising contingent of Chinese hyper-postmodernists; it is the reality of inequality and rising expectations that the vaunted Olympics will do nothing to solve. (Michael Weinstein)
Daniel Traub, “City’s Edge,” shows at Catherine Edelman Gallery, 300 West Superior, (312)266-2350, through August 29.