In May 2012, I was invited along with nine other photographers by the Beijing municipal authorities to visit the city to take part in an exchange project to photograph the metropolis.
This was my first excursion to the world’s most populous country and one of the most famous capital cities. The images I made over the course of eight days reflect, I hope, the shifting balance of Chinese society; from one rooted in a turbulent past, to a present where people now live under a hybrid of Western-style capitalism and totalitarian communism. What I discovered and tried to photograph was how this seismic change is affecting everyday life for people in Beijing. The balance of wealth and poverty is exaggerated and widening; its consequences unclear. People exist under very different ‘isms’ depending on where and how they live. For many there is opportunity and prosperity; for many others there is poverty. I wanted to depict how increased wealth makes people aspire to aspects of life which we in the West recognise and take for granted.