A few months ago, while still living in Washington, I found myself at the library. What a great place to be. While searching through the photography books I came across this book by Fine Art Photographer Linda Butler. Her black and white photographs captivated me and I sat there looking at every page of her large book. I love a beautiful black and white photo and I love even more one with a story. Her book was a chilling read and sight. I hope to someday be a part of and to capture with my camera an event like this. I wish I could have found more images of the book so you can see the beautiful images she captured of those effected by the Chinese Government's decision to create Dams along the Yangtze river and the demolishing of villages lining the river. Below are excerpts from her website, here. If you are interested there are a few more images from the book, here.
About the book
Yangtze Remembered is a portrait of the Yangtze River and its people before, during, and after the completion of the Three Gorges Dam. In June 2003, when the initial phase of the dame was finished, its reservoir inundated more than 300 miles of the Yangtze River Valley. An estimated 1.3 million people are being relocated as the sites of 1500 cities, towns, and villages disappear beneath the dark waters. While the old cities are destroyed, huge construction projects are transforming the landscape: dikes, bridges, and apartment towers are spring up.
Between 2000 and 2003, Linda Butler made eight trips to produce this historical record of the Yangtze before it was irrevocably changed. Informal portraits of local inhabitants preserve a record of the people as they carry pigs to market, load all their household furnishings into a boat, or play badminton on a village street. Intimate still-life images of interiors revel the contents of homes before they were destroyed. Lyrical photographs of dramatic vistas are paired with images showing the ravages visited on this region by coal mining and erosion.
Accompanying the images is the photographer's travel commentary, which reads like a fascinating series of short stories. Butler’s words describe the struggles of the common people as they come to terms with the destruction of their homes and lives, as well as the environmental controversies surrounding the construction of the dam. Yangtze Remembered is both a measured and a passionate book. The powerful images reveal much that we have never seen before and can never see again.
The introduction to the book Yangtze Remembered: The River Beneath the Lake
During much of human history, the waters of the Yangtze River have provided the primary route of transportation through the southern half of China. The 3900-mile-long river is slightly longer than the Mississippi-Missouri, but its role in the development of civilization is far more pivotal. It is the third longest river in the world, and, until recently, arguably the most dangerous. For centuries, it has fascinated artists, poets, and travelers who have immortalized its beautiful mountains, wild rapids, and diverse moods.
In 1992 when the Chinese government made the decision to build the Three Gorges Dam, travel agents offered last-chance tours of the Yangtze. Between 1993-2002, tens of thousands of tourists from Taiwan, Japan, Europe, and the U.S. were propelled through its gorges in cruise ships. In fall, 2000, I joined that pilgrimage. The river was only vaguely related to the romanticized image I’d imagined. The air was polluted, the towns were blackened by particles of coal, the weather was rainy, and the poverty of the people was evident. Yet I was fascinated by the beauty of the Three Gorges, by the human industriousness along the river’s edge, and by the history imbedded in its hills and towns.