︎ A Trading Journey
“ A look behind the scenes in the fashion industry, Alejandro Acin’s A Trading Journey is the most directly subversive—and, perhaps, directly political—of the three.”
Photoworks Annual 23
, Diane Smyth
This work was innitiated with a research at
Historical Photographs of China
about the importance of Canton as an international trading spot. In recent decades, Guangzhou has taken the lead in opening up China’s products to the outside world, and its economy as developed rapidly. The port city is now a major centre of the fashion and garment industry in South China, with factories accounting for one quarter of clothing production in China. It therefore offers an enormous market for fashion companies to buy, sell and distribute their clothes, shoes and accessories globally, often via e-commerce.
Interested in the aesthetics and mechanics of trading environments took me to investigate wholesale markets in districts such as Shaheding and Yide Lu that are currently threatened by Guangzhou’s regeneration plans. These wholesale markets sprawl all over the city, five or six floors buildings, with aisles crowded with fashion stalls and products hanging everywhere. Rather than focus on production, with these photographs I want to question the role of photography within the fashion industry by showing the unseen labour and mundanity behind fashion’s supply chain and the way in which ‘poor images’ circulate within this context. Glamour and prestige are stripped down to show what happens every time an online order is placed.
‘A trading Journey’ have been exhibited in shipping containers in different places in the UK (Bristol harbour M-Shed Museum and Watched Harbour, at Contains Art). It has also been exhibited as part of the Brighton Biennal of Photography in 2016 but this time in a gallery space.