The photographs in the series Made in China were created by the Dutch artist Johan Nieuwenhuize during his three month residency at the Three Shadows Photography Art Centre.
While in China, Nieuwenhuize set out to explore the rise of consumerism in a society that only recently opened its doors to economic reforms. He investigated how the rich and the poor – the haves and the have-nots – each dealt with the accumulation of material possessions. If you can suddenly afford anything you want, what do you buy? If you need to move from the countryside to the city to find work, what do you bring? Through his photographs, we see that our material possessions reflect who we are – our class, our values, and our understanding of the world.
To carry out his research, Nieuwenhuize entered the homes of some of Beijing and Shanghai's poorest people. He photographed their belongings, sometimes adding his own sculptural touch or humorous gift of a gaudy Dutch clog or vase. The piles of stuff take on a haunting quality as reflections of their absent owners. Shown at various heights next to self-portraits and abstract skies, the photographs create dynamic relationships between the artist's view of himself and immateriality objectified.