12 December 2012

How much stuff do you have? Need?

Beijing photographers 黄庆军 Huáng Qìngjūn (1971) and 马宏杰 Mă Hóngjié (1963) have been roaming about all China for years by trying to persuade a family in each province – it’s not easy, they say – to put off all their stuff in front of the house, and to sit down between them, so the photographers could take a group image of them...

They arrange them in one single broad line, to make visible the most possible items, provided that they fit into one line, but usually they do. Normally they do not pile them up, but exhibit them one by one, just like they acquired them. The family is almost always sitting or standing in the middle, and even in the two or three exceptions they are shifted towards the house as a center. Wherever they have food reserves, rice sacks, corn pipes, they put them in the forefront as the symbol of abundance. As well as the animals...

Is it possible to live a whole life with so few things? While not so long ago a peasant household had about five hundred objects, most of which were used in daily activities, in an industrialized culture we are surrounded by even a hundred times more things per household. No matter how much we want to live a simple life and try to eliminate the unnecessary frippery around ourselves, a set of everyday objects reduced to this extreme implies poverty to us even without considering the condition of the houses.
Text and images from Poemas del rio Wang, where there are several dozen more photos.

1 comment:

  1. This reminds me of the wonderful coffee table book "Material World."
    It gives me a new perspective every time I open it. My only complaint is that it was published in 1995, and I wish they would update it.


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