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Over a period of three years, Nadav Kander photographed scenes he encountered on the banks of China’s Yangtze River. More people live along the Yangtze, the third longest river in the world, than in the United States. As he traveled upstream and more than 4,100 miles from the river’s mouth to its source, Kander was struck by the transformation he witnessed:
China is a nation that appears to be severing its roots by destroying its past. Demolition and construction were everywhere on such a scale that I was unsure if what I was seeing was being built or destroyed, destroyed or built…And yet, paradoxically, the Chinese have traditionally had a deep identification with their native soil and an attachment to place. How can one be so rooted to the land and yet so ruthlessly redevelop or reinvent it? China's progress is rapid and profound. These are photographs that can never be taken again.
The images in the exhibition are organized into sections that retrace Kander’s journey from the mouth of the Yangtze at the coast, a high-traffic shipping port, toward The Three Gorges Dam, the largest in the world, past Chongqing, a rapidly expanding urban and economic center, to the river’s source in the Himalayan mountains. Accompanied by descriptions from the artist, these photographs of people dwarfed by vast landscapes explore themes of impermanence and displacement, and ultimately question the price of modernity.
This exhibition is sponsored in part by the Milwaukee Arts Board and the Wisconsin Arts Board with funds from the State of Wisconsin, the Marquette University Andrew W. Mellon Fund, and the Emmett J. Doerr Endowment Fund.
Quote from Nadav Kander: Yangtze–The Long River (Germany: Hatje Cantz, 2010).
Wednesday, August 20, 10 a.m.
All programs take place at the Haggerty unless otherwise noted.