Amongst the 24 million inhabitants of Shanghai, there are 250 registered sidecar riders. From mechanics to expat CEO’s, these riders come from all strata of society and are scattered all over the city.
It was through a chance encounter with a sidecar rider that I was introduced to this network and got to photograph these people. My photographic approach is situated between reportage photography and conceptual photography. I wanted to create images that are at the same time portraits and landscapes, which are engrained in reality and in an imaginary.
I never interfered with the appearance of the protagonists that I photographed; their bikes, clothes and style are entirely their own. The only element that I interfered with was the location in which I chose to photograph them. I aimed to represent the subjects in the style of Japanese manga heroes or as American Marvel-type cartoon characters.
The sidecars themselves are wartime motorbikes, which have been customised according to the riders’ personal taste, corresponding to a state of mind present in China today whereby individuals desire to differentiate themselves from the ‘uniform system’ of the past.
What I found interesting about this body of work was the possibility of talking about Chinese and expatriates at the same time. The sidecar was also a way that I found to reflect the excessiveness that I felt in relation to this city.
More images on www.aurelienchauvaud.com. Aurelien Chauvaud was born in Paris, he completed his formal studies between France, England and Barbados. He graduating with a BA from Blackpool College School of Photography from UK and assisted fashion photographers for about six years before starting a photographer’s career by his own.