American photographer Howard French has been documenting the last of Shanghai's old quarters. The early 20th Century areas are being razed for the 2010 World Expo and for modern developments.
"I moved to Shanghai in 2003 and lived in the central city, in the former French Concession. Getting to know the city became a process of wandering in ever larger concentric circles, camera in hand."
"Discovering the remnants of what was the old 'Chinese' city, from the days of Western imperial dominance, was an Alice in Wonderland moment for me."
"I photographed steadily for four of the five years I lived in Shanghai, which ended in August 2008. I've been back twice, once in December 2008 and for two months this summer, in order to complete the project."
"The final phase will focus on intimate domestic scenes inside the homes, courtyards and alleys of these old workers' quarters."
"Most of the neighbourhoods where I've invested long amounts of time are already gone, or will be demolished before the start of the Shanghai World Exposition next year."
"The fact that I had seen so little on this disappearing world from Chinese photographers gave me the conviction that I was not just making something charming or aesthetically pleasing."
"When I first started showing up in these neighbourhoods, my presence with cameras drew a lot of attention and it was hard to do the kind of work I wanted to do."
"I focused on a half dozen neighbourhoods and visited them many times over these five years. I became a familiar sight for the locals and I know most of the faces and every alley and short cut too."
"When I returned this summer after a six-month absence, people approached me and said that they had been worried something might have happened to me."
"Most of the project was shot on an old Rolleiflex, using black and white film. Nearly a third of the shots were taken on 35mm black and white, using a Leica or a Konica Hexar rangefinder camera."
"I've had a number of exhibitions, in Asia, Europe and the USA. I am living in and photographing New York these days and would like to have a show there too. I also hope to publish a book next year."
"The Chinese often asked me: 'Why are you showing this ugly, poor, unflattering side of our country?' To which I reply, there is real beauty in these communities, and real beauty in these lives, even if they are not easy lives."
What are these?