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These drawings are based on public relations (propaganda) images of the dam's construction, found on the China Yangtse Three Gorges Development Corporation website. [Click here for the paintings series].
The Three Gorges Dam is the largest hydropower-complex project in the world, taking over three decades to build, involving the razing of villages and factories, the flooding of lands and the displacement of over one million inhabitants, with estimates of four million over the next decade. Still under construction (and slated to be completed in late 2009), evacuation mismanagement and construction costs have raised the specter of government corruption. The project has grown to become one of China's worst environmental nightmares, contributing on a massive scale to erosion and pollution levels, and adversely affecting fault lines, the vitality of wetlands, fish populations, etc. It has nevertheless become a model for similar proposals from countries on other continents, providing a high profile stage for global one-upmanship.
Close to 100 official images document China’s monumental construction project; on some level the source images recall the grandeur of traditional Chinese landscape painting, but they are actually closer to the candy-coated kitsch of calendar art: landscape at the crossroads of nationalist propaganda and eco-rhetoric.