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The Third Front 2006

Date:2006.10.14 - 2006.11.30

Address:At the Paris-Beijing Photo Gallery, from Saturday October 14th to Friday December 7th

During the 1960s and 70s, heavy industry and military factories were moved from North-eastern China to the remote South-western frontiers (Guizhou, Suchan, Yunnan) in order to strengthen China’s national defense. Millions of migrant workers followed the factories on the so-called Third Front, protected in mountainous areas. But with time changing, these factories got abandoned gradually from the beginning of the 80’s in the absence of productivity and due to China’s reform and opening policy.

Chen Jiagang, a former architect, businessman, and curator has taken the Third Front as the subject matter of his first extensive body of works, using photography as his means of capturing the specters of industry that still reside there, silently.

Far away from a documentary project, his monumental pictures of these “abandoned cities” (taken with a large format camera) tell a story of the industrial and human activities that took place there and the decay of idealism as the consequence of this. A lone beauty, in traditional garb appears in the different images; she seems to be there, by crossing time and space, as the phantom whereby a romantic dream-like feeling of nostalgia and memory came into the image. Past and present overlay together, as well as realism and unrealism, objectivity and subjectivity…

 

More than that, Chen Jiagang seems to warn the viewers that the modern metropolises, ripe as they are with economic explosion, mammoth building campaigns and a huge influx of workers from the countryside, may end up in the same situation as the third front if China takes a turn for the worst. There is no guarantee that the future will follow the path of our dreams, overarching edicts and economies will always overpower the individual.




中文 / English