Nowadays, people can live in the Doge’s Palace of Venice in China, pray in a larger copy of St. Peter’s basilica in West Africa, plan a wedding in an XXL Taj Mahal in Dubai, or be buried in another, much smaller Taj Mahal in Dibai, India.
THE REAL THING investigates these and other replicas of the world’s most famous landmarks in order to understand why they were built, and how they are inhabited.
Between lucrative investments, architectural piracy, and modern tourism, each of these places expresses an aspect of how cities are shaped by globalization. They bear witness to shifting cultural frontiers. They appear as “mirages” in which fiction and reality contaminate each other.
Are these replicas heralds of a world of closed borders, where tourists will safely travel without moving? Are they really about cultural exchange, as the real estate and marketing executives say? And what do they tell us on their European models, which are also transformed by mass tourism?