heARTbeat: Huang Qingjun Photographs Chinese Families’ Worldly Goods

ColumnWealth consists not in having great possessions, but in having few wants. – Epictetus

Have you ever had all your worldly possessions laid out in front of you? Not just in your mind, but literally, everything you own as inventory. Picture this, everything you own co-existing within a few feet of your body, accountable and viewable in a single photo frame. This is the work of Chinese photographer, Huang Qingjun.

Qingiun began photographing people and their possessions ten years ago:

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.

Huang took his first pictures as a teenager, inspired by an uncle in an era when the obvious hobbies for young Chinese were calligraphy and singing. His first proper camera, bought when he was 18, was the most valuable item in the family home.  He was clearly committed to the process.

Next year marks the 10th anniversary of the first photograph Huang took in the series. He plans to mark it by returning to the places he’s visited, or rather locations that are still recognizable – to see what has changed.

“In the last 10 years, China has seen such a fast rate of growth, I want to go back and see what the effects have been on their lives,” he says. “From the possessions each family uses in their daily lives, you get a good sense of the real levels of life for China’s people.”

Inspired by an article in BBC News.

Eco, trends, art, creativity and how they tumble through social media to shape culture fascinate EcoSalon columnist Dominique Pacheco. Her trends blog, mixingreality, speaks to these topics daily, and here at EcoSalon, she takes a weekly look at the intersection of eco and art. We call it heARTbeat.

Dominique Pacheco

Dominique Pacheco is the author of EcoSalon's weekly heARTbeat column.