The Three Gorges is the two hundred kilometers long reach of the Yangtze where the river, descending from the Sichuan plateau, breaks its way through the mountains of Hubei province to the Chinese Plains. This scenic area where the 500 meters large river narrows down to 100-150 meters and passes along between 500-600 or sometimes even 1500 meters high cliffs, is one of the most important touristic sights of China.
The Three Gorges Dam is the largest electricity-generating plan of the world, the pride of the Chinese state. Its building, approved in 1992, was preceded by a decade of national debates and protests. The dammed up Yangtze will overflow 1300 important historical monuments and natural places of interest, and from the territories flooded by it – which are the most fertile lands of China – one and half million people have to be removed to different and usually worse circumstances of life.
Chongqing until the end of the 20th century was a city of moderate size at the confluence of the Jialing river and Yangtze. At the beginning of the building of the dam, in 1997 it was merged with the neighboring cities Fuling, Wanxian and Qianjiang, separated from Sichuan province and together with its Hungary-sized countryside it was declared one of China’s four special municipalities along Beijing, Shanghai and Tianjin, as the operational background of the dam of strategic importance. The city is being rapidly developed, the skyscrapers of its downtown recall Hongkong.
Peter Hessler, today a Chinese correspondent with several books went to China for the first time in the 90s as a twenty years old voluntary English teacher in the city of Fuling. About this period he wrote his first book River Town: Two years on the Yangtze. This volume records, like a slow documentary, how the old town along the Yangtze is being gradually evacuated and destroyed with the level of the river growing slowly higher, while the neighborhoods laying higher live their everyday life as if nothing happened down there.
Wang Yuanling’s photo series 主观城市 (The subjective city) represents the region waiting for being flooded under Chongqing and in the countryside. The pictures suggest the same impression as Hessler’s book. The frames of the former life have disappeared, but everyday actions are still going on in a vegetative way like the fish still beating with its tail after its head being cut off.
寒江春早 (Spring morning on the Cold River), suona solo, 4'47"