Another side of life: Peking apartments

Chinese photographer Alexvi Li was recently annouced 1st place in the People Category of the“The 2nd Fina Art Photography Awards”for his documentary series “Peking Apartments ”, in which he documented the off-stage life of these foreign girl models in China.

No one doubts the vitality of Beijing. People spare no effort to meet every possible need as a proof of value creation and self-existence. Among all the needs and desires, the pursuit of beauty is always the strongest and most urgent. And these girls are part of people’s craze over beauty.

The girls you can see in the photos are models temporarily living and working in Beijing. Most of them come from Eastern Europe or Russia. Their visa usually limits their stay in China for two or three months only. Therefore they are always on the run for commercial events, on runways and pose for shootings: From top tier fashion magazines to regular taobao stores, their hair and skin color, as well as their facial structures cater to the aesthetical standards in China. A lot of businesses in China rely on their looks and beauty to convey their brand message of being fashionable, international and high-end. While at the same time, they are meant to be consumed. Girls come and go, and a number of them will stay for the time.

The rapid-growing economy of China and the booming fashion industry makes China the land for dreamers. The popular girls get really well-paid whose hourly figure is expected to be over 1000 RMB. Yet high incomes always come with a variety of problems: overworking, less specialized team, or some health issues.

After exhausting hours of work, they return to their simple apartments located around the East Fourth Ring Road outside the center of Beijing. In these crammed apartments, they share rooms and even beds. The commonality of their lives forges friendship albeit the short amount of time they spent together. The words and sketches they scrawl on the walls become another trace of their lives here, just like the images of their faces left behind long after leaving Beijing.

(All photographs by Alexvi Li.)

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