The race to the growth that China got engaged into and which leads her back on the international scene is uncompromising.
Polluted rivers, dried up streams, sunken valleys, razed cities, contaminated atmospheres … China has surpassed the United Kingdom. The country is now the third largest economy in the world. Forgotten of the growth, three fourth of five hundred million Chinese peasants live below the poverty line. They go into exile within their own country, fleeing millenary countrysides devastated by industrial pollution. Coal mining, heavy construction, factories around the world have become the El Dorado of the Mingongs, these migrant workers with contempt rights. Exploited, and displaced, this cheap workforce at the mercy of corrupted powers begins each day the “Chinese economical miracle”, at the risk of its life.
The exhibition The Forced March presents several series of documentary photographs on the hidden side of the Chinese economic miracle.
- In Xinjiang, I saw nothing : In anticipation of the 2008 Olympic Games, the Chinese government organized official photography campaigns in the regions that were colonized for their energetic ressources
- Coal mines, buried alive : The dark faces of a China ever more energy hungry are still paying the price of growth with their lives. Every day, twenty or so deaths.
- Santa’s little workers : Disney, Hasbro, Mattel… Mickey, Spiderman, Barbie… they manufacture almost all these toys, twelve hours a day, seven days a week.
- The Damned at Pubuguo dam : Unkept promises, inacceptable reparations, violent police pressure, the peasants of Hanyuan are fighting desperately against expropriation.
- Polution, the villages of Cancer : lead pollution in the village of Xiditou is decimating the population only 150 kilometers away from Beijing
Ten journeys took place between November 2005 and February 2008.In order to win the interviewees’ trust and to avoid unnecessary risks for a Chinese translator, all of the enquiries were realized with Abel Ségrétin, a Chinese-speaking French journalist, and the Radio France Internationale correspondent in Beijing for the past 5 years. The relationship thus established allowed us to gather strong, involved, intimate testimonials. Ome witnesses risked their safety so that their story could be heard past the boundaries of their isolation. The retranscription of their words is impossible to separate from the images. Each image is associated to a framed text adjacent to the photograph.
The exhibition The forced March consists of 50 analog prints in 40x60cm format and of their 18x24cm captures, glued on aluminium.
Three copies of the exhibition are available, produced thanks to the generous funding of the French Ministry of Culture and in partnership with the Processus laboratory. The numbered series 1/5 was purchased as part of the French National Contemporary Art Fund. Read the text by Agnès de Gouvion Saint Cyr, General Inspector for Photography in the French Ministry of Culture
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