Earlier this year, we featured a project by photographer Sannah Kvist that showed portraits of urban young people posing next to a pile of all their worldly possessions. Jiadang (Family Stuff) by Chinese photographer Huang Qingjun is similar in concept, but very different in content. He has spent nearly a decade traveling around to various rural communities in China, asking families to take everything they owned and carefully arrange them outdoors for a picture.
Instead of the many relative luxuries we saw in Kvist’s project — guitars and camera collections, for example — most of what you see in Huang’s images are necessities (though we do see TVs and one satellite). The project offers a glimpse into the lives of those people living away from the big cities, where wealth and luxury have been exploding in recent years.
Huang tells the BBC,
Most people thought what I was proposing was not normal. When I explained I wanted to set up a photo, that it would involve taking everything out of their house and setting it up outside, that took quite a lot of explaining. But almost all of them, when they realised what I was trying to do, they understood the point. One advantage of travelling to remote, poor areas was that people didn’t have many possessions. They’re not like people from the city, who have so much stuff that if you asked them to do it they’d reply it was too much effort.
Now that the 10-year-anniversary of the project’s inception is coming up, Huang is thinking about expanding its horizons. He’s considering creating portraits of higher classes — perhaps even a portrait of China’s richest man: billionaire Jack Ma. Collecting all of Ma’s possessions into one place might be a tricky task, though.
Image credits: Photographs by Huang Qingjun