Oddly Uplifting Photographs of Beijing's Soaked Commuters

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Short Flashes
Short Flashes© Wiktoria Wojciechowska, Courtesy of Bemojake

Wiktoria Wojciechowska's new photo-book is a lesson in perseverance from rain-drenched Beijing cyclists

It was while completing her artist residency in Beijing that Polish photographer and visual artist Wiktoria Wojciechowska was captivated by the spirited resolve of the city’s devoted motorcyclists who, come rain, shine or typhoon, will always favour the moped or motorcycle over other modes of transport. Wojciechowska’s decision to photograph these intrepid travellers as they dashed past her on a daily basis during Beijing’s typhoon season resulted in Short Flashes, a collection of images that now form a photo-book published by Bemojake. Born from a desire to immerse herself in the city's culture, and connect with the people of China’s capital, Short Flashes is at once playful and wistful, due to the range of emotions captured by Wojciechowska’s probably-startling camera flash that caught her subjects wholly unawares. The title Short Flashes is therefore apt in more ways than one: it covers Wojciechowska’s practice of using her flash to get the shots, as well as the resulting brief glimpses that appear before us, fleeting yet also entirely static in their emotional resonance.

Of note in Short Flashes are the myriad facial expressions that Wojciechowska has managed to shoot, positively drenched and dampened – some figuratively, all literally – by the relentless torrent. Some appear to have resigned themselves to the inevitable soaking, as if the rain has caused them to plunge into an existential crisis mid-commute. One woman, however, sports a fighting look of sheer determination; she will not be beaten by the rain. Meanwhile, a man in a sunshine-yellow rain poncho looks into the camera to shoot us a knowing smirk, as if to say ‘I told you so’. All of the faces, though, are somewhat recognisable – as Wojciechowska attests: “These are many of the faces I carry inside myself.”

A coloured, heavy-duty rain poncho is the uniform of the Beijing motorcylist, and the colours on display in Short Flashes are uplifting; one cannot help but picture the delightful rainbow of ponchos that dart around Beijing amidst the driving rain of the typhoon season. To create a highly amusing and deeply resonant series of photographs of rain-drenched travellers is surely no mean feat, but Short Flashes pulls it off with care and aplomb.

Happy Monday! #AnOtherHappyMonday 

Short Flashes by Wiktoria Wojciechowska is available now, published by Bemojake.