Chen Jiagang — Diseased Cities
Past: June 14 → July 28, 2012
The Chinese artist Chen Jiagang focuses his research on the urban and industrial transformations occurring in contemporary China. Diseased Cities, his last work, presents a series of photographs depicting the human and environmental landscape around the Three Gorges Dam, the world’s largest hydroelectric power station completed between 2006 and 2009.
Born in 1962 in Chongqing, a sprawling city of more than thirty million people, Chen Jiagang travelled all over the scene of his childhood, disfigured by the construction of the dam, as indeed he says: “I was born in Chongqing and grew up in the Three Gorges Reservoir area, living in such places as Fengdu, Wanzhou and Yichang. I’ve also photographed the Three Gorges countless times, but I didn’t really begin to focus on the Three Gorges until that experience in 2009. That was when I noticed that the fog over the Three Gorges Reservoir was growing denser and more prevalent. Why is this? One reason is the changes in the overall climate of the area since the construction of the Three Gorges Dam. Another reason is the dust that is left over after the human plundering of resources. It is a symbol, and the waters beneath the fog are a microcosm of China today. Following the undulating red songs of the reservoir region, passing through the empty buildings sealed off in the anti-corruption campaigns, one can see the gaping holes left by the trees transplanted into the city and the despondent shadows of the people trying to resettle the area. Covered by the mist and compounded by the sudden rise of the massive chemical factories, my heart is at a loss. Is this really where I lived as a child? No… I can only step back, using a close-up method to view things, giving ample observation room to the details, further stepping through history to express my anxiety about the destruction of my childhood dreams”.
Chen Jiagang, an award-winning architect and former real estate promoter has a visceral understanding of space and form as well as an in depth feeling for the ways in which human beings live their lives. He brings this knowledge to the gigantic industrial spaces putting them to the ground glass of a field camera creating images that find their final expressions in the monumental large-scale colour pictures that are his signature.