Helen Couchman photographed a large group of Chinese workers engaged in construction work in preparation for the 2008 Olympic Games.
Each participant within WORKERS 工人 was asked to stand in roughly the same spot as all the others, with the Olympic stadium and pool clearly in view behind them. Couchman gave each worker a print of their own portrait for them to keep or to send home to their families outside Beijing. Thus the taking of these pictures involved a marked act of reciprocity and exchange. That Couchman supplied each individual with a copy of their portrait was significant and important, both for the artist and for the workers themselves. By this means Couchman addressed one of the most persistent functions of photography, that of establishing visual evidence, proof, in the present case, of having played a small but by no means insignificant part in something of major cultural, historical, and political importance for China, and for the West as well.
Peter Suchin 2008