They say we live in a materialistic age. Everyone seems to be some level of a hoarder with countless possessions that they consider essential to function in the modern world. Laptops, smartphones, e-readers, tablets–how would one live without them? Delving into the question of how many things we own, electronic and otherwise, Chinese photographer Huang Qingjun has embarked on a photo project that is now known as Jiadang, or Family Stuff.
The series, which began in 2003, focuses on the poor people of China. For nearly a decade, Qingjun has been asking families to empty all of their belongings in front of their house to pose for a picture with everything they own. Amazingly, almost all of the families he has approached has complied with his request. The photographer says, “[T]hey [realized] what I was trying to do, they understood the point…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.”
Despite the minute number of “stuff” these families who come from humble means in some of the most remote areas of China appear to have, in comparison to average or upper-income families, it’s interesting to see that most of them still own TVs and satellite dishes. The photo series seem to reflect not only on materialism, but the shift in what people deem staples of the home with the progression of time. Qingjun hopes to expand his project to include upper income families and perhaps even revisit these lower income households.