March 15—April 30, 2011
Since 2005, Muge, originally from the Three Gorges region of China along the Yangtze River, has been going back to the place where he was born in order to record the drastic changes that have taken place there. The construction of a large-scale hydroelectric dam (the Three Gorges Dam, completed in 2008) quickly destroyed the small villages of fishermen and tour boats that have occupied this region for centuries.
“To be a great artist you must not be afraid to be hungry”, says Muge. In China, the combination of strict government policy and rampant industrialization makes personal visual expression a labor of love. In the words of curator Louise Clements, “Muge has committed to great hardship and taken the risk to believe in himself enough to become a photographer in a place where opportunities are scarce, competition is high, materialism is fashionable and individualism is a treacherous endeavor.”
“Home for me has too many meanings,” Muge says. “On one side is demolition, explosion, collapse; mixed with noises and flying dust. On the other side are my childhood memories.” Muge adeptly captures the sense of melancholy that permeates this landscape, and transcribes into his photographs the feelings of a community deeply saddened by the irrevocable loss of their cultural home.