What is The Poverty Line?
The Poverty Line explores a simple question: what does poverty mean?
The visual project is a collaboration between Stefen Chow and Hui-Yi Lin. It began in China in 2010 and has since expanded to 28 countries across 6 continents. The Poverty Line uses the universal lens of food to examine the choices you would face if you lived at the poverty line.
The project takes a typological photographic approach over time. Each country’s figure is based on their poverty line definition and official national statistics to derive a per capita per day rate, with household food expenditure incorporated for developed countries. Food is then procured from local markets using that monetary amount. Every individual piece of work is photographed with the food items placed on local newspapers purchased on the day of the shoot, with the dimensions and lighting carefully measured to have a uniform aesthetic across time and geographical spread. The result is a large typological photographic statement that addresses the complex issues of global poverty using economics, photography and food choices.
The project was referenced by the World Bank and exhibited as large scale installations at the Pavillon Carré de Baudouin, Paris (2015), PMQ, Hong Kong (2015), Studio 94, Taipei (2015), Museum of Modern Art, Tblisi (2013), Three Shadows Art Centre, Beijing (2012), Galerie Huit, Arles (2011). The project has been extensively featured in international media including BBC, Le Monde, CNN, Foreign Policy and is currently in the permanent collection of the Museum of Contemporary Photography, Chicago and Central Academy of Fine Art Museum, Beijing. Chow and Lin are currently based in Beijing, China.