Critical Mass Top 50, 2011

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Philipp Scholz Rittermann

rittermann.com/projects/chinagrandcanal/index.html


Unloading Sand, Yuejin Port, Jining, Shandong Province, China 2010

Young Men, Red Pavilion, Yanliuqing, Tianjin City, China 2010

Man in Beach Chair, Coal Fired Power Plant, Jining, Shandong, China, 2010

Stone Bridge & Lumber Barge, Suzhou, Jiangsu Province, China 2009

Passing a Barge Team at Daybreak, Hanzhuang, Tai’erzhuang, Shandong, China, 2010

Beijing-Shanghai High Speed Rail, Zhongbe, Tianjin City, China, 2010

High-Rise Apartment Construction, Wuxi, Jiangsu Province, China 2010

Off-Loading Fish, Live Fish Market, Wuxi, Jiangsu Province, China 2010

Hutong Neighborhood & Coal Fired Power Plant, Dezhou, Shandong, China 2010

Moored Barges at Yuejin Port, Jining, Shandong Province, China 2010
Philipp Scholz Rittermann

EMPEROR'S RIVER Photographing Along China’s Grand Canal Media reports about China's economic growth, soaring export figures, and run-away pollution, don't fully communicate the enormous changes which are occurring there. The photographic exploration I conducted in 2009 & 2010 is my attempt to capture some of what 24/7 news coverage is unable to convey, and gain a better understanding of this increasingly influential part of the world. I followed the length of the Grand Canal, located in the heavily populated flats of Eastern China’s alluvial plain. Largely unknown to the West, the Grand Canal stretches over a thousand miles from Beijing to Hangzhou. It connects cities large and small, traversing both the Yellow and the Yangtze Rivers. The Grand Canal has contributed substantially to China’s cultural & economic development for over two millennia (construction began ca. 460 BC), and stands as the world's largest water project to date. It is also at the center of an ambitious and environmentally controversial project, which will re-direct a third of its flow to drought prone northern provinces.  To better reflect China’s complex socio-economic landscape, I resolved to cast a wide net, photographing in urban, industrial, and rural areas. The standard single-frame photograph felt too limited in tackling the contradictions which abound in this fast-paced mashup of antiquity and modernity. I chose instead to work panoramically, assembling images composed of several exposures. This approach allowed me to craft expansive, temporally and visually layered views with multiple fulcrums. The images I have made along the course of the Grand Canal are analogous to a core sample, revealing the layers of China's socio-economic strata. These images conflate time, as China itself conflates its past with the future. I hope they put a face on the anonymous statistics in the news, and make visceral how these numbers actually play out on the ground. Philipp Scholz Rittermann