Ship Wreckers

Tomasz Gudzowaty

According to local legend, shipwrecking activities at Chittagong Beach, Bangladesh, began after a ship ran aground in the early 1960s. Since then, it’s become one of the biggest shipwrecking centres in the world, a resting place for the massive steel husks of international commercial trade. Gudzowaty’s photographs show ships being disassembled largely by hand, producing a stunning juxtaposition of vulnerable human beings versus the hulking, rusting ghosts of global industry. Gudzowaty documents the plight of the workers, among the poorest of the poor in Bangladesh – a resource-poor nation whose economy needs such industry. He traces efforts across the labour chain, from porters who tote massive pieces of metal on their backs to chanters who coordinate hauling using collective muscle power. “The world needs to somehow get rid of these dying ships,” Gudzowaty writes, “even by unloading this problem on the shoulders of the Chittagong workers.”