These incredibly photographs by German photographer Michael Wolf are the result of numerous visits to 5 factories in mainland China, where 75% of the world’s children’s toys are manufactured.
Some of these images make you wonder what they think about our culture, and the $25 dog toys we buy just for our animals to rip apart.
Despite the rapid growth of the Chinese economy in the last decade, more than 482 million people in China – 36% of the population – live on less than $2 a day.
In 2010 the average monthly salary, including overtime, for a migrant worker was CNY 1,690 (US$ 240), insufficient to cover basic needs for workers and their families. In 2009 alone, approximately 1 million workers suffered industrial injuries whilst about 20,000 were victims of occupational disease. (Source)
The photos below show how Wolf’s photos were exhibited.
Wolf’s installation in the US involved 16,000 toys purchased second-hand over 4-weeks from flea markets and stores across California. Each toy had a face and was ‘made in China’.
The toys were shipped back to Wolf’s studio in Hong Kong where the back of each one was sanded down to create a flat surface. A magnet was then attached to the rear to allow them to be moved around the exhibit wall easily.
These photos do an incredible service of humanizing the reality that is often just regarded as a worn out joke in the West. It’s interesting to see the faces behind so many of the cheap plastic products we buy daily.
Having said that, this isn’t exactly how I pictured the north pole…
Share with your friends and see if they can’t spot Waldo in these pictures!