Zhang Kechun

Between the Mountains and Water

2015 – ongoing

Zhang-Kechun-Between-the-Mountains-and-RiversInspired by Alec Soth’s Sleeping by the Mississippi, photographer Zhang Kechun traveled three years documenting the effects of modernisation along Yangtze River. Ever since the opening-up policies of Deng Xiaoping in the 1980s, the Chinese economy has been in overdrive. This development had an enormous impact upon the Chinese cultural and industrial landscape. Zhang published his photographs, vast settings that often include human figures which appear dwarfed by their spectacular surroundings, in the award winning photobook The Yellow River (2014).

In a recent interview with Daphne Milner he explains: “After completing this project, I decided to continue looking for remarkable settings. Instead of shooting the river shore like I did in Yellow River, I ventured inland to look for impressive natural phenomena and man-built structures. […]. It feels as though a strong, destructive and unstoppable force is spreading across our natural landscapes. Under the circumstances, I consider myself to be very insignificant in comparison.”

For his new series Between the Mountains and Water he traveled extensively dwelling on the significance of the landscape in modern Chinese national identity. It features grand landscape shots of large, expansive mountain ranges and immense, concrete bridges taken with a large format camera. The calm and pale tinted photographs with an occasional coloured element breath a sense of silentness into an environment of constant change.

Zhang Kechun (b. 1980, Xi’An, China)

Photographer Zhang Kechun is best known for his large format photographs of post-industrial Chinese landscapes. He produces epic vistas that dwell on the significance of the landscape in modern Chinese national identity. With his breakthrough series The Yellow River, documenting the effects of modernisation along the third longest river in Asia, he won the Arles Photo Festival Discovery Award in 2014. He currently lives and works in Chengdu.

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