Shanghai-based photographer James H. Bollen shares a selection of images from his new book exploring the author’s relationship with his birthplace
“J.G. Ballard believed that human beings are inherently violent. This stemmed from his time in Shanghai, where as a boy he witnessed brutality before and during the period he and his family entered an interment camp in Lunghua, where they were held from 1942 to 1945,” photographer James H. Bollen states in the introduction to his book, Jim’s Terrible City.
Photographing Shanghai, the novelist’s city of birth, Bollen turns his lens on some of the leitmotifs that emerge through Ballard’s work – mannequins, birds, surveillance – as he addresses the landscape of the author’s upbringing, a cityscape dotted with empty and run-down hotels and apartments, abject poverty and extreme violence in Ballard’s day.
What Bollen captures is a version of Shanghai where “the inner world of literature and the reality of the outer world of the city meet and merge”, merging and tentatively exploring the threads between the author’s life and his work, removed three-score years, modernised and cultivated.
Jim’s Terrible City is out now. Click for more details on the book