Nadav Kander's Prix Pictet-winning photo series, Yangtze – The Long River, is nothing short of a national portrait. The images, shot by the Israeli-born, London-based photographer over a three year period from 2005 until 2008, focus on the banks of the Yangtze, Asia's longest river. This 3988-mile watercourse cuts China in two and more people live along the its banks than in the entire United States of America. But the lives of the Yangtze's people are changing in ways few Westerners can grasp. Kander, who won the prestigious Prix Pictet prize in 2009 for the series, says the photographs depict how traditional ways of life are being lost in the rush towards modernity.
“China is a nation that appears to be severing its roots by destroying its past,” the photographer says “Demolition and construction were everywhere on such a scale that I was unsure if what I was seeing was being built or destroyed, destroyed or built.”
Kander's Yangtze has been shown a few times before; twice at Flowers East gallery in London, once at the M97 gallery in Shanghai, and also at the Camera Work gallery in Berlin. However, the New York show, opening at Flowers NY tomorrow (529 West 20th Street), will give the set its first US airing.
They really are an amazing set of shots, bringing to mind something akin to Andreas Gursky meets JG Ballard and show how industry and nature are battling it out along the river's banks, while its human inhabitants are seemingly but an afterthought. Take a look at a gallery, courtesy of the Prix Pictet, and hear Kander talk about the series and win, below.