The Canidrome: the racetrack where Shanghai’s thrill-seekers once barked as viciously as the frantic greyhounds they were betting on.
Yiyuan Paigouchang meant Garden of Leisure and it felt that way for some. A hot rush of ecstasy emerged when their number came home first and a pretty burst of worthless betting slips flew from the hands of losers and flooded the air like confetti in a victory parade. Then champagne appeared as if from a secret spring. Then cash. And everyone in the 50,000-person stands watched the winners sing songs about being drunk, happy, and rich.
For most of the losers it was a colder evening but still enjoyable. There were countless ways to throw away money in a city rife with pleasure and sin such as Shanghai in the 1930s, and it wasn’t hard for an entrepreneur to laugh off the losses in the Canidrome’s clubhouse after the races with the foreign diplomats and a vodka martini in hand.
But for others, like the woman depicted in Liu Dao’s "Canidrome", the racetrack at the center of Shanghai’s decadent lifestyle was no a glitzy arena for fun and games but a cruel attempt at raising capital in the eleventh hour for some murkier purpose. The LED image shows the legs of a femme fatale in a modern conceptual equivalent of a film noir thriller, pacing back and forth, desperate for the money, and ready to sink to worse means if it all went wrong. Maybe she owed; maybe she had a habit; maybe the progression of blackmail was too intricate to ever know. For a sleek, chain-smoking young woman with dark secrets, the collective palpitation of the Canidrome was the best place to hide. [Pete Bradt]