BBC Learning English 英语教学

Vocabulary: possessions 词汇:拥有品,所属物

Take every single object out of you­­r house. Pose for a photo. Then, put everything back inside again.

Family Stuff 家庭的东西

A photo by Chinese photographer Huang Qingjun

This is what photographer Huang Qingjun has been convincing people to do for the past decade. Families from 14 of China's 33 provinces agreed to stand outside their house and pose for Mr Huang with all their possessions. An exhibition of his work, called 'Belongings' (财产), is now on display in Beijing.

It was not always easy to explain the object of the project. "Most people thought what I was proposing was not normal. When I explained I wanted to set up a photo, that it would involve taking everything out of their house and setting it up outside, that took quite a lot of explaining," Mr. Huang says. "But almost all of them, when they realised what I was trying to do, they understood the point."


On one level, the photos are intimate family portraits: an art dealer surrounded by his collection of ceramics, or a fishing family with objects mostly related to cooking. On another level, the pictures capture the social change that is taking place in China. The four most sought-after items in 1950s for newly married couples were a sewing machine, a bicycle, a watch and a radio. By the 1980s the stuff people longed for was quite different: a TV, a washing machine, a rice cooker and a fridge. In some pictures, the sewing machine was pushed to the back, which shows it's no longer as desirable as it used to be.

In other photos, luxury items are on display: a BMW car and a flat-screen TV feature in the portrait of film director Zhang Yuan. Since brand names and consumer goods already flood China's cities, will these soon reach the more remote parts of the country and become more prominent in Mr. Huang's snaps? Next year will mark the 10th anniversary of the start of the project, and Mr. Huang plans to visit the same families to see what has changed. "In the last 10 years, China has seen such a fast rate of growth, I want to go back and see what the effects have been on their lives," he says.

Which new goods will appear in the next batch of pictures? And which will no longer feature because they've become a thing of the past?

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