Natacha Wolinski // Démesure en équilibre // Air France magazine // August 2011
"Il faut trois roues et toute la force motrice de l'homme pour mettre en branle le rêve consumériste. L'homme est un petit porteur de Shanghai. Il vient d'ailleurs, de ces chemins de terre ocre où le vélo file, léger, entre les rizières. Il est de ces migrants qui découvrent simultanément le ruban gris du bitume, les gratte-ciel de Shanghai qui lui font d'étranges épaulettes et les totems capitalistes faits de bouteilles, de cartons, de pneus et de cageots. L'homme ploie sous ces amoncellements mais il pédale tout de même, maintient sa trajectoire équilibriste. A chaque tour de roue, il fait vibrer la "grande usine du monde" et peut prétendre à une part de cette invraisemblable pièce montée. L'homme est à ras de l'image, au bas de l'échelle sociale. Rien ne dit qu'il ne sera pas un jour au sommet des édifices nouveaux de la mégalopole. Avec cette série aux couleurs acidulées, Alain Delorme ne dit rien d'autre. Entre l'absurdité du monde matérialiste et le rêve immuable et ascensionnel de l'homme, il faut trouver la juste voie. Et faire tourner la roue."
Natacha Wolinski // Excess in total equilibrium // Air France magazine // August 2011
"It takes three wheels and the full power of one man to get the consumer dream rolling. This man comes from a place where bikes glide Iightly between rice fields. He is one of those migrants who discover, fu|| force, the gray strips of asphalt, the Shanghai skyscrapers and the capitalist totems made of bottles, boxes, tires and crates. The man sags under his pile, but continues pedaling along, maintaining atenuous equilibrium. With each turn oft he wheel, he rattles the ”great factory of the world," and can aspire to his share of this unbelievable « piece montée ». The man is at the bottom of the image, on the lowest rung of the social ladder, but he just may one day reach the top. For Alain Delorme, this series is about finding our way between the absurdity of the materialist world and mankind's age-old dream of reaching for something higher. While keeping the Wheel turning"
Marie Darrieussecq // La Chine en roue libre // Beaux-Arts magazine // January 2011
Plein le dos. Des pneus, des paquets, des cageots. Des objets de consommation, des produits du commerce. N’en jetez plus. Ces petits porteurs chinois, au fardeau virtuellement alourdi par Alain Delorme, traversent une Chine rendue abstraite par la géométrie des fils, des palissades et des constructions. Avec leur maison sur le dos comme un Cipangopaludina chinensis (un escargot local), ces triportistes participent vaillamement à l’élan économique. Le capitalisme chinois est porteur de promesses aussi nombreuses que leurs paquets : un bric-à-brac typique des BRIC(ces fameux Brésil-Russie-inde-Chine).
Roulez petits bolides, mais à Shanghai, à vélo, on dépasse quand même rarement les autos.
Adam Jacques // Shanghai's totems of consumerism // // The Independent // April 2011
young man drags a ramshackle stack of furniture across a city on a makeshift cart; another pedals a colossal tower of cardboard boxes along the road, the load perched precariously above his tricycle. "The dizzying heights of these piles echo the incessant expansion of the buildings in the background," explains the French photographer Alain Delorme, who spent several weeks last year documenting the frenetic activity of China's most populous city, Shanghai.
These towering loads – or "totems", as Delorme calls them – are symbols of both a bustling boomtown and a reminder that the country's economic leaps forward have depended on the hard graft of an army of workers. At first glance, these workers are the Herculean heroes of this brave new world, able to balance and heave huge loads. But linger longer and Delorme's images take on a different dimension. "After a while I had the feeling that the objects they carried swallowed them," he reveals. These pictures aren't an ode to consumerism, then, but a reflection of our slavish clamouring for endless piles of goods.
Look closer still, and the loads seem to teeter at crazy angles, defying gravity. The piles have, in fact, been digitally exaggerated to question their role in the world's fastest-growing economy. "I wanted to show how small, traditional jobs in Shanghai life may soon disappear," explains Delorme – replaced, that is, by gleaming transport trucks bought by a city in hot pursuit of modernity.
Mito Habe-Evans // Impossibly Tall Towers Of Stuff // NPR // March 2011
Take a look at one of Alain Delorme's pictures of migrant workers toting massive piles of things around Shanghai, and I guarantee you'll do a double-take, or at least stare dumbly for a minute trying to figure out what the heck is going on. What in the what? Is that even possible?
Turns out, Paris-based Delorme creates these spectacular towers of boxes, tires and blankets using Photoshop. As he exaggerates reality by meticulously stitching together the image, he tries to confuse the line between what is fake and what is real, asend raise questions around the limits and rules of documentary photography.
"Even pictures covering a story are retouched to look cleaner, more beautiful," he writes in an e-mail. "What are the limits when the search for perfect aesthetics hides a part of reality?"
Delorme uses only candid photos of people and buildings around Shanghai to construct his images, but exaggerates the loads to draw attention to them. By juxtaposing the towering piles of stuff with the towering buildings in the distance, Delorme writes, "I wanted both to restitute the feeling of accumulation and the vertigo I felt when I first arrived in Shanghai — as well as the strong contrast between modern and traditional China."
He calls this series Totems
Malcolm Jones // Alain Delorme Photographs of Bike Deliverymen Captures the Old-New of Shanghai // Newsweek // December 2011
Photographer Alain Delorme documents the Shanghai deliverymen who marry the ancient cart and the demands of modern commerce in a balancing act that has to be seen to be believed.
The mind wants to make metaphor out of photographer Alain Delorme’s images of modern Shanghai. It’s Sisyphus on a bike. It’s the weight of capitalist struggle on the back of the worker. It’s a rolling example of human ingenuity. Oh, wait. It really is that last thing. Why get fanciful or poetic when you can simply look at these photographs and tip your hat to the sheer pluck, ingenuity, and determination that it took the people in these pictures to transport goods from point A to point B? Carts, trikes, bikes—the most humble forms of transportation this side of a mule, set against the high-rise wonder of the modern metropolis: yes, the disparity practically screams off the page. But what sticks with you is the clowns-in-a-Volkswagen lunacy of the wide loads in a tiny space—it’s comical, it’s heartbreaking, it’s impressive, all at once. It makes you think of William Faulkner’s argument that man will not merely endure, he will prevail. Looking at these images, who could doubt that?