In a series of photo essays, Guariglia provides extensive evidence of Shanghai's attempts to graft the exotic and new onto the indigenous and traditional. The results are fascinating, often perplexing. In a chapter called "style," we get glimpses of two mismatched knee socks cut off at the instep (Prada's inspiration last season?), worn with thong sandals, of full-face plastic visors that look like lampshades, of punk-colored hair and black fishnets all juxtaposed with the pajamas that the locals seem to have adopted as civilian uniform. (Until this book, I though that only writers lived in their pajamas.)
The pile of bicycle tires and a wooden folding chair in the section called "Still Life" would have appealed to Recycler Wang. A lace tablecloth is draped over a motorcycle. In "Daily Life," a scene of checkout lines at a store imparts a mind-boggling sense of scale a sea of heads and a maze of shopping carts so vast that it makes Costco look like a boutique operation.
In his foreword, John Krich calls Guariglia's photographs "an act of visual preservation, a catalog of close kinship-like living, with no sordid detail or curious impulse spared, at once touchingly intimate and strangely open, bred by conditions soon to be reduced to rubble." Indeed, there is something precarious about the moment these images describe. "Over the course of my travels," Guariglia observes, "I began to realize that authentic slices of culture that have withstood change over centuries, and may still provide a portal inot ancient traditions, are truly becoming a global anomaly. They still exist in some areas, but they are unfortunately dwindling rapidly, amid the worldwide assimilation of cultures and societies." The New York Times Style Magazine