We look into two shows that opened this month, they’ve made an impression on us – read on to find out why.
‘The Real Toy Story’: An eye-opening photo reportage by Michael Wolf
Even though we know factory conditions where toys are made are terrible, that doesn’t stop us buying toys for our kids. We don’t often think about the back-breaking work that goes into making them, but this changing with more awareness about the intensive labour and cruel abuse.
The Chinese toy factories produce more then 75% of the world’s toys. According to a report in 2010, the average monthly salary, including overtime is estimated to be just 1500RMB. Factory workers often work an extra 36.5 hours a week (on top of their already excessive 97 hours!) but for all this time, are paid only 59% of the minimum wage. The work conditions are brutal, with one million industrial accidents a year. According to the National Labour Committee the workers are not allowed to talk or listen to music, and are forced to eat sub-standard meals from the factory cafeterias. They’re forbidden to go on a bathroom break during their shift, and get only one day off each month.
Photographer Michael Wolf’s strong visuals, show rows upon rows of anonymous faces behind these toys. His exhibition presents powerful pictures surrounded by 16,000 second-hand toys purchased from flea markets around California. Let’s hope this creates more awareness!
Visit The Real Toy Story
at the K11 Art Foundation
, Shanghai, from 11 Jan – 12 Feb 2014.
Portraits of China: ‘Here There Are Men’ by Patrick Wack
Shanghai-based photographer Patrick Wack shot portraits across Chongqing, Inner Mongolia, Tibet and Yunnan of ‘everyday heroes’. Two years long, sometimes ten days in a row, for eight or ten hours per day. But, according to Patrick it taught him more about himself and photography than his seven years of commercial photography.
‘Here There Are Men’ is a quote from the book A New Celebration
: Portrait(s) of Chongqing,
which was made in collaboration with writer Pierre Vinclair. The book is a side project that came about during the realization of this portrait series. The photo series captures real people in real situations, in their routine surroundings. Wack conveys them like these heroic everyday characters, which makes the portraits very powerful. The whole series is shot with the same camera and lens: a medium-format Mamiya 6 and a 75mm. It shows the value of simplicity in photography, with the surreal science-fiction environments and everyday people, shot ‘in the moment’.
Check out the solo exhibition at Art + Gallery until 16 Feb 2014.
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