Zhang Kechun, born in 1980 in Sichuan province, China. He now lives and works in Chengdu. He won the National Geographic Picks Global Prize in 2008, the Daylight Photo Award and the Arles Photo Festival Discovery Award in 2014. He was nominated by the Three Shadow Photo Award in 2012, Sony World Photography Awards in 2012 and 2013, and by the Prix HSBC Pour la Photographie in 2014.
The Yellow River
The Citadel Park
19-28 August 2016
Zhang Kechun produces epic vistas that dwell on the significance of landscape in modern Chinese national identity. In the series The Yellow River he documents the effects of modernisation along the third longest river in Asia. He found inspiration for the series in Chengzhi Zhang’s novel River of the North. The project took him on a journey along the river, from the coastal flats of Shandong to the mountains of Qinghai, on a fold-up bicycle, all the time carrying with him a large format Linhof camera.
The Yellow River is considered the cradle of Chinese civilisation, but it’s also seen a threat, capable of breaking its banks at any time. The areas surrounding the river have been devastated by flooding in recent years, and Zhang’s photographs capture the emotional impact this has had on the local population with an eerily quiet atmosphere. The river constantly dwarfs the people who rely on it, rendering them vulnerable to its might.
“I wanted to photograph the river respectfully”, Zhang says. “It represents the root of the nation”. While the project was not initially intended to confront environmental issues, Zhang found that this aspect became unavoidable and the series hums with melancholy for the lost landscape. “I started off wanting to photograph my ideal of the river, but I kept running into pollution,” he says. “I realised that I couldn’t run away from it, and that I didn’t need to run away from it.”
Pétur Thomsen born in 1973, Reykjavík Iceland. Pétur Thomsen has in recent years attracted attention for his projects “Imported Landscape” and Umhverfing, both of which deal with man’s attempt to dominate nature. Man’s transformation of nature into environment.
Pétur Thomsen has received numerous awards and prizes. In 2004 he won The 10th LVMH young artists’ award. In 2005 he was selected by the Musée de L’Élysée in Lausanne for reGeneration 50 Photographers of Tomorrow. The exhibition Imported landscape in the National Gallery of Iceland was selected as the exhibition of the year 2010 in Iceland.
The Citadel Park
19-28 August 2016
In 2003 Iceland’s national power company started building the Kárahnjúkar Hydroelectric Project in eastern Iceland. It consists of three dams – one of which is the tallest in Europe – and a hydroelectric power plant. The dams block the big glacial river Jökulsá á Dal, creating the 57km2 artificial lake Hálslón.
The plant primarily supplies electricity to an aluminium smelter, built by American company Alcoa, in the fjord of Reyðarfjörður, on the east coast of Iceland. The artificial lake and the constructions have spoiled one of Europe’s largest wildernesses, making Kárahnjúkar not only the biggest construction project in Icelandic history but also the most controversial one. The Kárahnjúkar project is one of the most contested and disputed initiatives in Iceland, and due to the low price of energy sold to large-scale consumers it was one of the elements that sparked the country’s financial crisis. Environmentalists are fighting for the preservation of wild nature, while those in favour of the project talk about the need to capitalise on the energy that nature offers.
“When the project started I felt a great need to participate in these debates,” says Pétur Thomsen. “I had worked in an aluminium smelter for five years before starting my photography carrier. I felt the best way for me to participate was to follow the land in its transformation, showing my respect by photographing it. From the beginning of the project in 2003 until 2013 I went regularly to the construction site, taking landscape photographs and documenting Icelandic contemporary landscape.”