For seven years, Beijing-based artist Zhang Bojun photographed people he saw on the street. In his latest work, he’s woven them together into massive composite photographs titled “We.”
Everyone always seemed tired, Zhang explained in an artist’s statement. Indeed, for over thirty years, the Chinese government has pushed rural citizens towards its rapidly expanding cities with the promise of employment. Just earlier this week, the government made life in new cities a bit easier by granting access to education and unemployment benefits for people outside their hometowns.
But many feel unsettled, Zhang wrote, traveling back and forth between city and country, “like migratory birds.” And the crowds he photographed rendered individuals “just like ants.”
Separating the individuals in his images and regrouping them to form patterns leaves Zhang’s work open to interpretation, argues French photo journal The Eye of Photography. His large-format composite photographs could be viewed as “purely formal.” Or alternatively — and as Zhang suggests in his statement — the project represents a collective struggle. Indeed, city life has proved grating on young migrant workers, who commonly suffer depression and anxiety. The work “is all about people,” Zhang explained.
Take a look at some of his incredible images below, courtesy of OFOTO Gallery in Shanghai.