/ 100

Wan Chaofan: By the Water

Born in 1991, Gu’an, Hebei, China. Currently lives and works in Tokyo, Japan.


My university is in Chongqing, a city that sits next to the Jialing river. After walking out the front gate of my university, within twnty minutes, you’ll find yourself walking down a market street. The air starts to get moist, and, gradually, you’ll hear the sound of water – then, the Jialing river jump into view. At this point in the river, it takes only two hours to walk up and down. I started photographing in my 3rd year of university, during which I almost went there with my camera everyday, and walked this stretch of the river over and over. The Jialing is the main source of drinking water in Chongqing. The riverbank is fresh, and so a desirable space for people to congregate. Adults come to play Majiang, drink tea and alcohol, children come just to run and play. Despite these instances of joy, I have always seen people just sitting there, looking at the river, with no indiscernible facial expression. It’s as if they expect the water to refresh their spirits, so they can return to their everyday lives. I cannot document all the people I meet, nor just one person all the time – what I see is fragmented pieces of people. I believe all these pieces hold a record of the emotions from a time in one’s life, and, as people are component part of a city, these common, fleeting emotions become the feeling of the city. The profiles of this city, along with the flowing water, this feeling frozen in people’s face and bodies.These photographs are just appearances, but with certain transparency. – Wan Chaofan

Wan Chaofan graduated from the Southwest University in Chongqing in 2013 and later moved to Tokyo to study at Meiji University, from which he graduated in 2017, and Tokyo University of the Arts, which he graduated from in 2021. His photographic work has been exhibited in Japan and China, including Totem Pole Photo Gallery, Xishuangbanna Foto Festival, and Ginza Canon Gallery. Wan Chaofan has received the Kawaba New-Nature Photo Award and 5th Canon Photographers Session for his photographic work. He is also the co-founder of the self-funded publishing label Stairs Press, while being a member at Totem Pole Photo Gallery in Tokyo.

Click here to follow Wan Chaofan on Instagram. 

Edited by Nikolaj Ahlefeldt