Raphael Olivier is a French photographer who currently lives in Shanghai, China. His photographic work is mainly focused on the diversity of urban development and mega-city lifestyles.
In 2015, he decided to create a photographic documentation about the city of Ordos, which is located in Inner Mongolia, China.
Ordos, Inner Mongolia, is well known as the largest Chinese “ghost town”. Located in a province rich with natural resources (coal, gas, rare earth metals), the local government decided to invest heavily in the late 90’s / early 20’s to develop a new city which would become the pride of the country: a futuristic vision of a cultural, economic and political center boasting state-of-the-art infrastructure and real estate.
However, following the classic Chinese tradition of building fast and cheap, without any urban planning or long term vision, the city quickly became a spectacular failure.
The prices of property being much too high discouraged potential buyers so the only people who actually moved in were local government officials and migrant workers who could earn more here thanks to a special “relocation bonus”. As a result the city is now a surreal landscape of empty streets, decaying monuments, abandoned buildings and half-finished housing projects. It is more than anywhere the symbol of the Chinese Dream with all its challenges and contradictions, an Orwellian vision of a bright future caught up by a less flamboyant reality.