Richard John Seymour traveled to the Chinese city of Yiwu to photograph Commodity City
In "Yiwu Commodity City," Seymour documents the buyers and sellers that make up the wholesale market
The photos shed light on how the products people own may connect to unfamiliar, distant landscapes
In the center of China’s eastern Zhejiang Province lies Commodity City, which photographer Richard John Seymour says is the largest small-commodity wholesale market in the world.
The shopper’s paradise, in the city of Yiwu, covers 46 million square feet and has about 62,000 booths, with 100,000 suppliers exhibiting 400,000 kinds of products.
The sheer enormity of the place posed challenges for London-based Seymour, who visited Commodity City twice last year.
“I tried to see as much as I could in the days that I was there, and became very quickly exhausted by the constant sensory overload,” he said via email. “I spent a total of four days constantly walking around Yiwu and wouldn’t say I got near to seeing all of the stalls.”
Seymour’s “Yiwu Commodity City” photo project began in January 2014, when he established both the style and content of his photos: the sellers in their environments in addition to the monotony of the market itself.
When Seymour returned to Yiwu in August, he felt well-prepared to begin shooting. During this visit, he also came to better understand the atmosphere and dynamics of the market.
“The atmosphere of the market was quite unusual in that one gets the sense that it really is home to a community,” he said. “The second trip I made to the market was during school summer vacation, and because of this there wer