Michael Wolf has featured on Swide previously when the Prix Pictet project 'Growth' caught our attention and we captured the message that the exhibition shared with those who were lucky enough to experience it in person. 'Tokyo Compression' is a collection of claustrophobic photographs tinged with damp.
This isn't a collection that will leave you feeling particularly lighthearted and may even leave you gasping for air. Those of you who use public transport will know the feeling of flocking on and off buses, trams, underground systems and trains like sheep and those of us who endure the frustrating journeys that happen at rush hour will be able to empathise with Michael Wolf's subjects more so. But I think it is safe to say that it is rare that many of experience the type of commute that these guys go through weekly.
Captured in Tokyo, Wolf has captured the rush hour from hell, but one that is more than common in Tokyo, where there are professional 'pushers' to, literally, cram commuters on to the moving sardine tins by a series of group shoving and passenger compacting. 'Tokyo Compression' presents us with the moment just before the train leaves the platform and shows us the uncomfortably claustrophobic, if not breathless, lack of space.
Michael Wolf, a German-born photographer based in Hong Kong, has caught photographs that instantly speak volumes of population density and social structure, how a city is literally bursting at the seams, and echoes some of the messages that are found in the Prix Pictet project 'Growth'. Under scrutiny, those featured in the collection display varying expressions from placid acceptance to undeniable discomfort and even the downright sleepy. The images can also be viewed in a different light as well for some of the photographs, pearled with condensation, create rather horror film-esque stills with clawed hands and distorted faces. Which ever way you look at this project it is both unsettling and informative, engaging and startling and a project that I am glad to have stumbled across. And it is also safe to say that many of you won't complain about your commute to work again.
For more photography and art on Swide:
Credits - Michael Wolf
Written by Ben Taylor