Finalist 2018: Kechun Zhang
China is a country displaying enormous growth in many areas – often as not, to the detriment of the environment. Nature appears to play only a secondary role in modern development. To draw attention to this problem, Kechun Zhang’s series, “Between Mountains and Water”, is made up of motifs where the mountains and rivers in all their opulence are pushed to the forefront – while the people in the surroundings seem to be absurdly incidental.
“My last project was already ten years ago: it took more than three years to follow the Yellow River to its source, and capture the hike in pictures. ‘Between Mountains and Water’ continues along the same theme – but this time I am concentrating on other rivers and, what’s more, on mountains. Once again, the relationship between people and nature, within the context of the rapid developments in the country, is at the core of this project. To show this, I joined groups of tourists who were looking at the landscape – just so that I could take pictures of them. On the whole, they thought I was just another tourist wanting to take pictures of the scenery, and they let themselves also be photographed.
“China’s urban areas are booming, and nature is facing enormous challenges.”
In my 38 years of life, I have experienced the reforms in China and the opening-up of the country – drastic changes taking on a form that is unique in the history of China. The urban areas are booming, and nature is facing enormous challenges. I think that every one of us, whether observer or participant, plays a part in this game. This era is of concern to everyone, and no one will be spared. Though I believe that many problems will arise in the future, I hope, even so, that China can keep its balance and continue to develop at the same time.”
The Chinese photographer Zhang Kechun was born in Szechuan in 1980, and currently lives and works as a free-lancer in Chengdu, China. His pictures focus on the influence of humanity upon nature, and have been exhibited in China, New York, London and Paris, and elsewhere.
Portrait: © Cyril Delettre