March 9 2006, Three Gorges Zigui Hubei

Dan Luo

Date : 2006

Medium : Photography

Size : 100 x 120 cm

"[Luo Dan]'s photographic approach is completely original, and even disturbing. It is also subtle, seductive and full of meaning. […] Luo Dan projects us into a China that is vague, suspended and uncertain and bears no relationship to the demonstrations of strength of the arrogant towers in the major cities or the Olympic Games. He invites us into an unreal country that is more resigned than sad, and perhaps reflects the state of mind of most of his peers, who have been excluded from the sudden and spectacular rise in wealth experienced by the lucky few. The most disturbing and touching aspect is that this China, although it is by no means shiny and impressive, has a charm that is as indefinable as it is profound".

Christian Caujolle
Founder and artistic director of the agency VU

The guide

What voyage does this photograph invite us to take?

There is no specific sign, but everything suggests that we are in China. Could it be the mountains lost in the fog, which reference the classic representation of the Celestial Mountains? Or simply the man, with his baggy clothing that reveals his thin Asian build? Or perhaps it is the delicate colours that resemble the palette of ancient Chinese paintings?

Consider the figures. The photographer made the unusual choice of posing them front and centre, in the extreme foreground. But rather than pushing us away, this invites us to contemplate the landscape. Or rather the profound socio-political considerations at the heart of young photojournalist Luo Dan’s project, China Route 318.

In 2006, when the photo was taken, this desolate landscape, punctuated by isolated structures, was soon to be engulfed by the waters of the Yangtze. The biggest dam in the world was built in the Three Gorges area and the Zigui County was the object of one of the most important development programmes in China. This controversial project caused the forced relocation of more than two million people!

So, can we see this man and child as symbols of the present and future contemplating a China destined to disappear? This work tries to conserve a trace of that China, in a vain effort to resist the unending and all-too-fast changes in Chinese society.