restricted access Chapter 12. Death in Macao
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224 Walking Macao, Reading the Baroque Death in Macao Chapter 12 225 12. Death in Macao 123. Colosseum It is a question how much analysis of baroque Macao applies to the new city-space, much of which has been created out of reclaiming land, threatening to make Taipa and Coloane disappear as separate islands, as it has also profoundly changed the Praya Grande and bulldozed so many of Macao’ s earlier buildings. Fisherman’s Wharf, copying America (San Francisco) in the name, is no wharf, though it is on a newly built waterfront. It opened at the end of 2005, for casinos, shops, restaurants and themeparks . These include a series of pastiche sites of interest: a T’ang dynasty palace; a mock mountain called Vulcania, which includes a ‘River of Fire’ ride; a Dragon Quest; an Aladdin’s Fort, which includes much pseudo-Islamic building and advertises minaret jumping, and which is accessed by an Imperial gate, the Roman Colosseum, and a mock Trajan column complete with what is called a statue of Caesar. There are old English medieval houses where the wood is rendered in concrete disguised to look like old wood, and a main street. This has a series of old Dutch houses, a New Orleans area, an Afrikana section of native huts, a casino, and adjacent to it, going back, returning up the main street, a Miami art deco–style restaurant, and some other sites, including what looks like a pastiche of Macao itself, where there are mock Portuguese buildings. The hero of The Lusiads has given his name to a Da Gama waterworld. All these are shops, 226 Walking Macao, Reading the Baroque and bars and restaurants, and there is the inevitable conference and centre. The Colosseum, built as a ruin, is nevertheless a practical working space for stage shows, and its ovaloid shape unconsciously aligns it with the baroque, as with other examples in Macao. The photograph shows the oval shape of the amphitheatre, which seems here to be enclosing the tower of the Sands Casino. The amphitheatre is deliberately fragmented, like the fire station. Where the cutting out of elements that would give completeness was a feature of that building, and was for artistic reasons, to give wholeness, here it makes the building look like a cliché representation. At the end of the street is the Babylon Casino. It has kitsch art deco features like the entrance to a 1930s cinema; it means to conjure up thoughts of the exotic and non-European. The bright blues of the façade disguise the absence of windows, which means that there is no mutuality in the exchange of looks given by the person outside the building, and by the building. The building looks but does not return the look. Perhaps the name’s intention is to suggest that the power of the primitive takes over in this casino: perhaps that is implied in the bearded heads that are to be seen as mock-capitals high up in the decoration; these are the heads of those who have lost fortune and life together in the casino, and have their heads held up as trophies. In Fisherman’s Wharf, the buildings are fake, like stage scenery: no one lives here, there are not even outside staircases to take people from the ground level where shops would be expected to the upper regions where people would live. The modern shopping mall divorces work from lives as the older city did not, but more to the point is the miniaturisation of the architecture — the ‘colossal’ nature of the Colosseum becomes scenery like that for a Broadway musical. No one could live in these toy-like spaces which evoke historical architecture only to mock it by making impractical its spaces which were designed for practicality. A restaurant occupies, as to street façade, two different ‘Dutch’ houses (it is one house, disguised as two), and on inspection, the ground-floor ceiling is located halfway up the windows of the first floor. Projecting cranes, a feature of Dutch houses, appear under the gables here, as they should, but have no practical use. The left-hand façade of the two even pretends to have a cellar, but in the prevailing flatness of architecture here, could not have. Nothing, least of all a cellar, which suggests intimacy, could be folded into its platitudinousness. The baroque fold and this flatness represent two opposites. Fisherman’s Wharf is not a parody of the copy; it...


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  • Art, Chinese -- China -- Macau (Special Administrative Region).
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