Sim Chi Yin - The Rat Tribe

  • St James Theatre (map)
  • 87/77 Courtney Place
  • Wellington
  • New Zealand

Photival is proud to present 'The Rat Tribe'.

Supported by the Asia New Zealand Foundation

Opening Hours: Tues-Fri 11-6pm, Sat & Sun 10-4:30pm

About the Photographer

Sim Chi Yin is a visual documentary author focused on projects in Asia. She is particularly interested in history and memory, migration and transience. Based in Beijing for the past eight years, Chi Yin feels both southeast Asian and Chinese, and is curious about where cultures meet and blend or diverge. 

Her work has been screened at photo festivals in France, New York, Los Angeles, Nobel Peace Center in Oslo, and in China. She has done commissions for TIME, The New York Times Magazine, National Geographic, Le Monde and The New Yorker, among other top international publications, as well as NGO clients. Chi Yin was a Magnum Foundation Human Rights and Photography fellow at New York University in 2010 and a finalist for the W. Eugene Smith Grant in Humanistic Photography in 2013. She was a World Press Photo jury member for documentary categories in 2016. She has been nominated twice for the Prix Pictet. Please visit her website. 

About the Show

Her series The Rat Tribe fits ‘Brink’ as with property prices skyrocketing in the Chinese capital due to a mass migration of people from the countryside to the huge urban mega city, people cannot afford decent size housing. Here we see air raid shelters and basement spaces beneath apartment blocks are partitioned into rooms and rented out. Basement-dwellers, unkindly dubbed the 'rat tribe' by the Chinese press, rarely see the sun from their rooms and often put up with mold and mildew on their clothes and bedding in the summer, but many make this space their comfortable home during their time in the capital.

About the Associated Charity

The associated charity is DCM based in Wellington. Each year more than 850 people go to DCM for support, most of whom meet the New Zealand definition of homelessness or are at risk of homelessness. They work with them to find housing, access their correct benefit entitlement, manage their money, and to connect to primary and mental health services, and specialised alcohol and drug services, as well as to whānau and other supports.

Last year DCM established a vibrant hub, Te Korowai Nui o Te Whānau (“the large cloak that envelops the family”). At Te Korowai, DCM offers people experiencing homelessness, mental illness and addictions an opportunity to engage with skilled staff and receive assistance to identify their needs and the support they require to achieve wellbeing. Te Korowai also includes DCM’s Te Hāpai service (a safe space where people have opportunities to participate in recovery-focused programmes and support to reconnect with themselves, their whanau and their cultural roots), the new DCM Dental Service, two Te Aro Health Centre health rooms (a primary health clinic with a strong focus on providing outreach services to homeless people) and other partnerships.