100000 People Wearing Masks


People wearing masks by Coca DaiAt the beginning of this year the city of Wuhan was confronted with the outbreak of the corona virus, later called Covid-19. The worldwide pandemic is still not over and the long term consequences are hard to survey and very worrying. Coca (pseudonym used by the photographer) started to photograph people on the street wearing masks from the start of the pandemic. But due to stricter closure regulations, he’s still to complete the total figure of 100000 people. Nowadays he photographs people wearing masks every day from within the required social distance. From several people a day to dozens of people, to hundreds of people recently since the extreme lockdown was slowly taken down. First in Wuyuan, Nanjing and now back to Shanghai. Due to the strict travel control however, he didn’t go to more places.

He describes: “I’m going through this epidemic, just like everyone else in the world. The epidemic has exposed political, economic and institutional problems in various countries, and the world is undergoing rapid changes. At present, masks have become the most scarce medical supplies, although there are huge differences in the concept and living habits between the East and the West. I hope to record people’s different states in a free way, record people’s self-protection in daily life and work until the epidemic is over and hopefully everything will finally get better. In 2020, we will start to wear masks to protect ourselves and our families. There is no escape.”

The project 100000 People Wearing Masks is an attempt to express the uncertainties the epidemic has brought to the world. The overwhelming amount of people wearing masks in the streets of almost every Chinese city is breathtaking, both literally as well as the inevitable symbol of the corona pandemic.

Coca (b. 1976, Wuyuan County, China)

Photographer Coca graduated from the school of fine arts, Shanghai University. In 2010 and 2018, he exhibited at the Arles photo-festival and in 2014 he won the first prize of New Talent Award in China. His works are mainly concerned with social issues and focus on close relationship between families. Recently he exhibited his long term project “Judy Zhu” (2008-2015) in collaboration with curator Holly Roussel. The series began at first as daily snapshots of his girlfriend and developed into a significant intimate narrative on contemporary womanhood.

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