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Nadav Kander Photographs The Yangtze River, A Watercourse Under Major Threat

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Name
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Yangtze, The Long River
Words

Intrigued by China’s rapid economic progress that is ostensibly at odds with its deep-rooted sense of tradition, Israeli photographer Nadav Kander set out to create ‘Yangtze, The Long River’: a photographic series depicting the fast-changing landscape of Asia’s longest river.

The Yangtze River spans over 6000 kilometers; it is the third longest in the world. For many thousands of years, the river has been populated by millions of humans who have lived along its banks, and has played an important role in the cultural, spiritual, and economic origins of China. As Kander describes in his artist statement, it is “the main artery” of the country. “This extraordinary and vast river is embedded in the consciousness of the Chinese”, he says. Yet in recent years, the river has been subject to immense demolition and construction. “With the river as a metaphor for constant change, I photographed the landscape and people along its banks from mouth to source”, he explains.

According to The New York Times, the project took three years and five trips to China to complete. Hazy images of industrial architecture are interspersed with far away shots of humans going about their daily life; people depicted as tiny in comparison to their surroundings. “A formalness and unease began to permeate my pictures”, admits Kander, as he began to feel “the smallness of man pitted against huge ideas; the insignificance of man compared to the state”. There is certainly a sense of resignation that permeates Kander’s work, one that questions the paradox of tradition prevailing over progress – as the photographer asks, “How can one be so rooted to the land and yet so ruthlessly reinvent it?”

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Shanghai I, 2006

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Chongqing VII (washing bike), Chongqing Municipality, 2006

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Chongqing VI (Sunday afternoon), Chongqing Municipality, 2006

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Yibin II (counting receipts), Sichuan Province, 2007

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Shanghai II, 2006

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Chongqing XVI (Sunday morning), Chongqing Municipality, 2006

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Pudong I, Shanghai, 2007

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Chongqing III, Chongqing Municipality, 2006

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Old Fengdu III, Chongqing Municipality, 2006

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Wanzhou I, Chongqing Municipality, 2007

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Qiaotou (tiger leaping town), Yunnan Province, 2006

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Nanjing II, (Metal Palm), Jiangsu Province, 2007

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Mouth VII, near Shanghai, 2007

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Qinghai Province III, 2007

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Xiling Gorge III, Hubei Province, 2007

All images © Nadav Kander