HATCH Series No. 2 | Between the Concrete

+ About the Work

Demolition and reconstruction has become a prevalent facet of the everyday as a consequence of China’s rapid development in the recent decades. My work is an examination of the relationship between people and their living space. In this series, I applied techniques used in studio lighting outdoors to capture portraits of the residents in front of their property, whose houses had already been or would be demolished due to a fever of urbanization initiated by local government.

The process of making these images brings forth a series of questions regarding my personal expectations of the outcome in the documentation of the residents.

Contrasting the residents and their surroundings, the backdrop forcibly alienates and abstracts the presence of individuals. It consequently creates a monstrous blank space within the image itself, which not only physically isolates the residents from their houses, but also makes their presence a strange and abrupt interjection in the scene they used to be familiar with.

The process of persuading the residents to stand in front of the camera also generates a different layer of meaning that I had not anticipated. When approaching each person about my project, the interaction between the residents and myself echoed the administrative process they encountered with the government. Some people easily consented to the project, some only gave their greenlight after multiple visits, some never responded, others pulled back after their initial agreement, and yet a percentage was monetarily motivated to participate.

In that sense, the project goes beyond images captured and presented. The process itself — of creating the images acts like the giant backdrop — intrusive and unintentionally mirrors the disruption initiated by the local government. The expression of the residents, to some degree, represents their feelings towards a foreign intervention — me as a photographer, the government as the agent of demolition, or even more broadly, the inevitable process of urbanization.


Wenjie received his B.F.A in Photography at China Academy of Art and his M.F.A in painting at Zhejiang Normal University in China and SUNY University in Albany. He currently resides in New York.