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Indepth Arts News:

"Yangtze Remembered: The River Beneath the Lake"
2005-09-24 until 2006-01-01
Phoenix Art Museum
Phoenix, AZ, USA

In July 2003, the worldís largest hydroelectric project, Three Gorges Dam, opened in Chinaís Yangtze River Valley. Yangtze Remembered: The River Beneath the Lake, opening in Phoenix Art Museumís Asian gallery on September 24, 2005, and remaining on view through January 1, is a photographic chronicle by photographer Linda Butler of the Yangtze River and its people before and during the construction of the dam, and as the ensuing reservoirís flood waters began to engulf hundreds of towns, displacing more than 700,000 people. When the project is complete in 2009, over 1,500 cities, villages and archeological sites will have disappeared beneath over one trillion cubic feet of water in the reservoir and more than 1.3 million people will have been relocated.

Between 2000 and 2003, photographer Linda Butler made eight trips to rural China to record images of the Yangtze River before it was changed forever by the Three Gorges Dam. Butler has worked as an independent art-photographer for more than 25 years and is known for her explorations of other cultures. Her work has been exhibited in such institutions as Whitney Museum of American Art in New York, The Cleveland Museum of Art, Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto, and Yokohama Museum of Art in Japan.

The 55 historic black-and-white photographs in this exhibition explore the 400-mile section of the Yangtze from Chongqing to Yichang, the location of the dam and reservoir, revealing the riverís grandeur, its environmental degradation, and its people as they struggled to adapt to change. Butlerís landscape images echo classical paintings in their stunning beauty, while her human portraits convey the emotional and physical turmoil of this region in the heart of China.

Global controversy continues regarding the possible long-term ramifications of the dam project. Historical landmarks have disappeared, wildlife habitats have been altered, and the livelihoods of many people have been lost. This important photographic exhibition brings into focus the intrinsic correlation between landscape, people and technology in 21st century China as well as the debate regarding the damís impact on global environment and social concerns.

The photographer, Linda Butler, will discuss her work in a lecture at the Museum on Thursday, September 29, 7pm. The program is presented by the Museumís Asian Arts Council and admission is free. A catalog of Butlerís work is available for purchase in The Museum Store.

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