In 2006, drawn to the immense scale of China and its development, Nadav Kander embarked on the project of photographing the Yangtze River, whose banks and waterways provide home and livelihood for hundreds of millions of Chinese. Taken along the river from its source in remote western China to its mouth just off the shores of Shanghai, these photographs depict the human footprint of habitat and industry that can be seen along the shores of China’s longest river.
Taken over a three-year period, Kander’s Yangtze River photographs speak of a China in the process of radical change, and of man’s futility and subjugation of the natural world in the pursuit of development. Following the course of China’s longest river upstream, Kander created a profound and contemplative body of pictures. Much like the Buddhist metaphor of a river itself, the photographs evoke a certain sense of the eternal and ephemeral, of man’s footprints amidst constant change and the flow of time. Documenting the effects of this change on the lives and traditions of the people who live in the river banks – in all, a population greater than that of the United States - resulted in this body of stunning photographic works which capture the timeless toil of man against nature, yet in an incredibly timely manner during a period of major upheaval along the Yangtze River. These photographs, however, go beyond documenting China’s relentless development, as they poetically allude to the fragility of our world and the damage humans may tend to inflict – damage that is not constrained by national boundaries. Kander is well aware that “this project was about us all, about our interrelatedness, and not just about China.”