Enchantment and Suffocation in Zhang Kechun's "The Yellow River"
Best known for large format photographs of the post-industrial Chinese landscape, Zhang Kechun produces epic vistas that extol and underscore the significance of landscape in modern Chinese national identity. For this project, Kechun embarked on a journey along one of the country’s longest and most celebrated waterways, the Yellow River. Once considered the cradle of Chinese civilization, the river has undergone a drastic, and often destructive, transformation in the last hundred years. Initially Kechun envisioned his trip on the historic river as an experience to "find the root of my soul."
"While along the way," he writes, "the river from my mind was inundated by the stream of reality. The river, which once was full of legends, had gone and disappeared. That is kind of my profound pessimism. Nevertheless, as a vast country with a long history, its future is always bright. There is a descent in the matrix; there is her own nutrition to feed her babies; there is the power of creation to cultivate them strongly. The weak moaning finally will be drowned by the shout for joy. From this point of view, it seems, all shall be optimistic."