Yiwu Commodity City

Selected by Tate Collective as one of 10 emerging talents under 26 in the UK.

Yiwu is a city in the Zhejiang province of China, South of Shanghai. It hosts China Commodities City, famous for being the largest small commodity wholesale market in the world. 

Thousands of stalls like this exhibit multiple and slight variations on a particular item. Each individual seller occupies a space consumed by the very items that make them their living. They sell orders by the thousand to be exported across complex logistics networks, disseminated to a world of dispersed consumers.

This collection represents about 10% of this series, and less than 0.1% of Yiwu's stalls. These images become analogous to the relentless production of the consumer items themselves, and extend the idea of the 'photo project' beyond a collection of individual images and into a conceptual artwork in it's entirety, raising questions about the nature of value, economies of scale, and human labour.

This project was in collaboration with The Unknown Fields Division, a nomadic design studio, run by Kate Davies and Liam Young, that ventures out on expeditions to the ends of the earth to explore peripheral landscapes, industrial ecologies and precarious wilderness. These distant landscapes – the iconic and the ignored, the excavated, irradiated and the pristine – are embedded in global systems that connect them in surprising and complicated ways to our everyday lives.