Stare. It is the way to educate your eye, and more. Stare, pry, listen, eavesdrop. Die knowing something. You are not here long. -- Walker Evans

Friday, May 25, 2012

Nadav Kander: Yangtze, The Long River

Kander's 2010 book Yangtze, The Long River traces development along China's Yangtze River as a potent case-study of our unprecedented and irreversible transformation of the environment.

Yangtze, The Long River
is one of the most timely books – photographic or not – in this age of industrial escalation (most notably in Asia). Along with Edward Burtynsky, Kander's work is among the most sobering accounts of humanity's reshaping of the environment and the implications of our addiction to material consumption. Consequently, it will appeal to broad current affairs and environmentally-interested audiences, in addition to the smaller photo-book market.

There is a disquieting beauty in these photos, however, shot with the clarity of large-format film. Here is work, not only of a master who knows 
aesthetics and technique, but which, when coupled with a timely message, creates a photographic masterpiece. This window on a changing world will resonate decades from now, when future generations will look back on our era and soberly reflect upon the ravages of overpopulation and our hunger for material advancement on a finite planet.

One aspect of the book which interested me was the accommodations locals have had to make with these new developments, in order to carry on lives as normally as possible, while being overshadowed by huge construction projects (and often being displaced by them).

From The Guardian: Kander won the 2009 prix Pictet for these photographs. The award focuses on sustainability and climate change, and last year's theme was the Earth itself. The Yangtze "is a metaphor for constant change", as Kander puts it, and also a literal indicator of the destruction and devastation China is visiting on its land and its people as it ruthlessly pursues economic development on an unprecedented scale. It is the world's third-largest river and its banks are home to more people than live in the USA. Or, to put it another way, one in every 18 people on Earth lives along the Yangtze. [Read more...]

The following slide show, with commentary from the photographer, provides an insightful overview of the project.

[Kander's Website]  Buy at: Fishpond / The Book Depository / Amazon

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