It is no secret that a very large fraction of what we buy every day is produced elsewhere. For example, you will have a pretty hard time to find anything made in the US if you go to the store that I only call Hellmart. Somewhere, I read that 10% of all Chinese exports go directly to Hellmart - so that they can sell stuff cheap. And cheap it has to be as smaller businesses are being driven out of business, wages move towards minimal wage, and whole towns are converted into modern-day shanty towns.
Michael Wolf captured one aspect of this whole business by going to a Chinese toy factory and taking photos there and by then constructing a gigantic installation out of discarded toys, bought at flea markets and the Salvation Army. You can see the work here.
Update (14 Jan 2005): In another, stunning series, currently on view at Robert Koch Gallery, Michael Wolf is showing what he calls “architecture of density” in Hong Kong. Utterly fascinating.
Update (11 May 2006): Michael’s latest addition to his portrayal of life in Hong Kong is what he calls 100 x 100 - “photographs of residents in their flats in hong kong’s oldest public housing estate”.