Yixian International Photo Festival, Anhui Province

Yixian, Anhui Province, China
November 2-8, 2012

COAL+ICE traveled to Anhui Province in November 2012 to participate in the Yixian International Photo Festival, an event which was to coincide with the Bishan Harvestival. Both Festivals were cancelled at the last minute because of the upcoming 18th Party Congress in Beijing, but not before we installed the exhibition. Many people were still able to see the exhibition and Abigail Washburn performed traditional American coal mining songs in the hall. For more information, read our field report from the festival.

Notes from the Curator of the Yixian International Photo Festival – Ou Ning

COAL+ICE is a compelling exhibition that juxtaposes two seemingly unrelated visual landscapes: towering ice mountains and raging rivers versus steam-filled factories, pitch-black industrial underground worlds, and ghostlike coal miners. Walk through the thoughtfully constructed course of this exhibition, and actively experience it. You will find the interconnection between the segments and appreciate its ambitious grand narrative. Human society’s insatiable need for energy acts like a knife plunging deep into the flesh of our natural world, causing great illness and endangering its sustainability. Energy exploration and production not only causes inequality and the destruction of social fiber, but also leads nature to an impasse. An air of calamity is thinly veiled under the seemingly benevolent images.

How can a layman be educated and compelled into action to combat the approaching environmental consequences? This exhibition uses the medium of photography—by curating historical and contemporary photos from different parts of the world and selecting entry points that touch ordinary people’s life experiences, this exhibition presents a survey on today’s most urgent issue, climate change, and expands the discussion both geographically and chronologically. Precisely because Coal+Ice so profoundly reveals the price of “modernization” and complements the issues to be discussed at 2012 Yixian International Photography Festival—the decline of agriculture, the rural deprivation in urbanization, the disruption of agricultural tradition by global economic integration—we are honored to include it in this year’s festival as a special project.

Installation Photos by Jeroen de Vries, Leah Thompson and Sun Yunfan

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