Seventy years after cult author JG Ballard left Shanghai, the city he grew up in, his legacy continues to haunt its streets. British photographer, writer and translator James H Bollen, has spent the last five years capturing the ghostly images that echo throughout Ballard’s fiction. In Bollen’s words: ‘I feel that Shanghai’s hugely important influence on JG Ballard’s work tends to get overlooked. Once I began seeing things here that could have come out of one of his short stories or novels, it made sense to photograph them.’ His first book of photographs, Jim’s Terrible City
, is released this month.
With a touching foreword by Fay Ballard, JG’s daughter, the beautifully produced book depicts unmistakably Ballardian themes: time, violence, consumerism and surrealism. Ballard once said of his own experiences in wartime Shanghai: ‘I’ve tried to link together obsessions of mine – car crashes, time, hallucinatory states of mind, which have always drawn me to the surrealists – and find their sources in my own past in Shanghai.’ And this book is a most fitting tribute.