When we look at The Forbidden City from space, it looks almost like a microchip in the middle of Beijing. The complex is over 500 years old but still projects a lot of the power it once protected. This largest wooden structure on Earth is a marvel of design, even now. Not sure anyone ever visited all of the 999 rooms of the place.
I have traveled to visit the Forbidden City many times, and it is a magical place especially when experienced in the right order, gate after gate and space after space. It is a center of power but also a center of ingenuity, wisdom and balance. the most powerful palace on Earth for many centuries, even when not all knew of its existence. The individual pieces of the structure are meticulously maintained and the many layers of lacquer and the incredible tiles on the roofs are still here, in a beautiful interplay with the sun.
I have taken many hundreds of pictures in some of the open spaces of the Palace Museum, as the Forbidden City is now called, but also in the small alleys and inside of some of the very beautifully proportioned buildings. I used AI to amalgamate a selection in order to look under the surface of this incredible place. The series of photographs that I was able to create have a certain level of abstraction, but they also carry some of the emotion and harmony that in the same breath must have inspired and frightened, protected and intimidated.
Even Mao did not dare to touch the Forbidden City. His portrait is placed on what is now an outer wall. The Forbidden City is a symbol of the genius that has been woven into the fabric of China for thousands of years. And the place is now forbidden again. Because of the pandemic and also other challenges, the amazing place has closed its doors to those whom the protectors of the city do not trust. I am not sure how long it will take until I will be able to visit this incredible place again. For now the memories, and the idea of the long flight, seem as forbidden as the p(a)lace.