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IAN TEH / THE VANISHING / March 18, 2005 – April 16, 2005 /
The Vanishing: Altered Landscapes and Displaced Lives on the Yangtze River
March 18 – April 16, 2005
Opening Reception: Thursday March 18, 2005, 6-8pm
“Ian Teh's heart stopping exhibition shows us the uncertainties, fears and squalor of a world in its death agony. His camera is candid, compassionate, searching…The subtitle of this extraordinary exhibition, ‘altered landscapes and displaced lives’, suggests that it is the Yangtze’s ghosts that haunt Teh…A great Teh strength is to capture the personal dignity of those caught up in the mass uprooting.”
-Rosemary Righter, The London Times, January 27, 2004
The Jack Shainman Gallery is proud to present the U.S. premiere of Iah Teh’s photographic project The Vanishing: Altered Landscapes and Displaced Lives on the Yangtze River. Teh’s work captures the dramatic changes wrought by the construction of the Three Gorges Dam on the Yangtze River in China and the resulting displacement of thousands who lived and worked along the river’s edge. Beginning in 1999 Teh has traveled to the Three Gorges region repeatedly, capturing the lives of the region’s residents before, during and after their displacement, revealing the personal face and vast scale of upheaval wrought by China’s unending push to the forefront of 21st century world economy.
Ian Teh, a Malaysian born Chinese photographer who currently lives in London, has a poetic eye that reaches beyond the traditional documentarian. The photos presented in the “The Vanishing” reveal change in its intimate details. Teh’s photos illustrate some of the final moments of daily normalcy amidst the oncoming deluge of the Yangtze’s rising waters, as vast cities are leveled brick by brick, a woman strolls with an umbrella in the early morning mist, a barber performs what may be the last haircut before his shop is torn down. The impersonal modern cities that have been rebuilt further inland to house some of the displaced residents are contrasted with the deeply personal character of villages at the edge of demolition.
One of the largest construction projects ever undertaken, the scale and impact of the dam are hard to fathom. Some facts: Three Gorges Dam will be one and a quarter mile long and 575 feet high when completed in 2009 and will provide 1/9th of China’s energy needs. When the waters of the Yangtze were dammed last June, a lake was formed stretching nearly 400 miles, the distance between New York and Montreal. To make way for the dam 13 cities, 140 towns and 1300 villages were submerged and over 700,000 people displaced. 1,200 historic sites (some with tombs dating back 6,000 years) were submerged along with 75,000 acres of once fertile farmland.
While the Chinese government trumpets the improved lives of thousands who will benefit from the electrification and flood control provided by the dam, Teh’s photographs document hundreds who have been swindled by government officials out of the just-deserved compensation. As the displaced farmers and fisherman await the jobs that have been promised them in their future homes, Teh’s breathtaking photographs provide evidence of a way of life and a historic landscape being swept under the carpet of history in the name of progress.
Exhibitions include “The Vanishing: Altered Landscapes and Displaced Lives on the Yangtze River,” Art Commune, Hong Kong, 2004; “The Vanishing: Altered Landscapes and Displaced Lives on the Yangtze River,” Photofusion, London, 2004; “Visa Pour L’image” Screening: Blackpool Weekend, Perpegnan, France, 2002; “ID: 2001 Worldpress Masterclass,” Netherlands Photography Institute, Rotterdam; “Visual Journalism Group,” Royal Photographic Society, London, 2000; Photographers Gallery, London (Finalist image, photographer of the year), 1994.
Gallery hours are Tuesday – Saturday from 10 am to 6 pm. For additional information and photographic material please contact the gallery at firstname.lastname@example.org