Michael Wolf's Tokyo Compression shows an undignified way to travel in Japan

Michael Wolf is a German artist and photographer living in Hong Kong and Paris, whose work documents life in big cities. His photo series, Tokyo Compression, focuses on overcrowding on public transport in the Japanese capital.

All images courtesy of Michael Wolf and the Blue Lotus Gallery

All images courtesy of Michael Wolf and the Blue Lotus Gallery

During the rush hour in central Tokyo, subway passengers are routinely squeezed together - contorted, uncomfortable and even in pain - in a way that few in the West would ever countenance. Wolf's intimate photos capture their misery by focusing in on the details of each face and each train window.

The result is a series of images that help you connect and empathise with the passengers' emotions, regardless of whether you've ever experienced such conditions yourself. While some may see the forbearance and quiet dignity of Tokyo commuters as something to be admired, Wolf is clear where his perspective lies. "This is not a dignified way of living,” he was quoted as saying in a CNN interview. "It's like looking into a ride in hell."

The series goes on show at Hong Kong's Blue Lotus Gallery from April 20-May 13, and a new edition of the accompanying book - which leading photographer Martin Parr has called one of the most important photobooks of the decade - will be launched at the preview night. The exhibition will tour Europe later this year, starting during July's Recontres Arles Photo Festival in Arles, France.


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