Yiwu, “Second Tier City”

A short documentary about the city Yiwu in China and the people who live there. Yiwu has the largest small item market in the world which has over 50,000 stores. Young people in the surrounding area have been moving there to start a business.

Its called Second Tier City because cities in China are ranked by the government based on the money they generate, among other things, and Yiwu is considered second behind cities like Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou which are First Tier. Yiwu for it’s size is ranked rather high because of the massive market where you can buy every type of small item manufactured in China in one place and the massive amount of money and trade that generates.

This film primarily follows the lives of two young women who are chasing their dreams in Yiwu.

Directed by Xia Han & Matthew Moroz

“Reality is just graffiti in […] absurdist dystopia, and the never-never present is a mishmash of all the horrors of the 20th century, from the terror of hidden bombs to the banality of advertising. […] The real will grow more elusive – but bureaucracy will endure.”


Notebooks on cities and clothes .2

Notebook on cities and clothes - Wim Wenders (1989) 00:14:01

I believe this photo of a young gipsy was Yohji’s favorite in the book, not simply for what he was wearing, rather for the forlorn look in his eyes and the way he’s tuck his hand into his pocket.


Notebook on cities and clothes - Wim Wenders (1989) 00:22:53

The video images even felt more accurate sometimes, as if they had a better understanding of the phenomena before the lens (…)

Les images vidéo étaient même plus justes parfois, comme si elles comprenaient mieux les phénomènes devant l’objectif (…)

(Sur la différence avec le 35mm, en rapport avec le ‘tournage’ et la mode.)

Notebooks on cities and clothes (intro)


“You live wherever you live,
you do whatever work you do,
you talk however you talk,
you eat whatever you eat,
you wear whatever clothes you wear,
you look at whatever images you see…


“Identity” …
of a person,
of a thing,
of a place.

The word itself gives me shivers.
It rings of calm, comfort, contentedness.
What is it, identity?
To know where you belong?
To know your self worth?
To know who you are?
How do you recognize identity?
We are creating an image of ourselves,
We are attempting to resemble this image…
Is that what we call identity?
The accord
between the image we have created of ourselves
and … ourselves?
Just who is that, “ourselves”?

We live in the cities.
The cities live in us …
time passes.
We move from one city to another,
from on country to another.
We change languages,
we change habits,
we change opinions,
we change clothes,
we change everything.
Everything changes, And fast.
Images above all…

change faster and faster and they have been multiplying at a hellish rate ever since the explosion that unleashed the electronic images. They are the images that are now replacing photography.

We have learned to trust the photographic image. Can we trust the electronic image? With painting everything was simple. The original was the original, and each copy was a copy – a forgery. With photography and then film that began to get complicated. The original was a negative. Without a print, it did not exist, just the opposite, each copy was the original. But now with the electronic, and soon the digital, there is no more negative and no more positive. The very notion of the original is obsolete. Everything is a copy. All distinctions have become arbitrary. No wonder the idea of identity finds itself in such a feeble state. Identity is out, out of fashion. Exactly. Then what is in vogue, if not fashion itself? By definition, fashion is always in. Identity and fashion, are the two contradictory?”

— Notebooks on cities and clothes, Wim Wenders, 1989